Skip to main content

Full text of "Sir George Tressady, Volume 2"

See other formats

This is a digital copy of a book that was preserved for generations on library shelves before it was carefully scanned by Google as part of a project 
to make the world's books discoverable online. 

It has survived long enough for the copyright to expire and the book to enter the public domain. A public domain book is one that was never subject 
to copyright or whose legal copyright term has expired. Whether a book is in the public domain may vary country to country. Public domain books 
are our gateways to the past, representing a wealth of history, culture and knowledge that's often difficult to discover. 

Marks, notations and other marginalia present in the original volume will appear in this file - a reminder of this book's long journey from the 
publisher to a library and finally to you. 

Usage guidelines 

Google is proud to partner with libraries to digitize public domain materials and make them widely accessible. Public domain books belong to the 
public and we are merely their custodians. Nevertheless, this work is expensive, so in order to keep providing this resource, we have taken steps to 
prevent abuse by commercial parties, including placing technical restrictions on automated querying. 

We also ask that you: 

+ Make non-commercial use of the files We designed Google Book Search for use by individuals, and we request that you use these files for 
personal, non-commercial purposes. 

+ Refrain from automated querying Do not send automated queries of any sort to Google's system: If you are conducting research on machine 
translation, optical character recognition or other areas where access to a large amount of text is helpful, please contact us. We encourage the 
use of public domain materials for these purposes and may be able to help. 

+ Maintain attribution The Google "watermark" you see on each file is essential for informing people about this project and helping them find 
additional materials through Google Book Search. Please do not remove it. 

+ Keep it legal Whatever your use, remember that you are responsible for ensuring that what you are doing is legal. Do not assume that just 
because we believe a book is in the public domain for users in the United States, that the work is also in the public domain for users in other 
countries. Whether a book is still in copyright varies from country to country, and we can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of 
any specific book is allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Google Book Search means it can be used in any manner 
anywhere in the world. Copyright infringement liability can be quite severe. 

About Google Book Search 

Google's mission is to organize the world's information and to make it universally accessible and useful. Google Book Search helps readers 
discover the world's books while helping authors and publishers reach new audiences. You can search through the full text of this book on the web 

at http : //books . google . com/| 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 



Digitized by VjOOQIC 


Digitized by VjOOQIC 




AuTHOB OF '• Maroblla,'* '* Thb Histobt of David Obixvb,** 


VOL. I. 



AU rights reserved 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 

5 ;io. 








Set up and electrotyped September, 1896. Reprinted November, 
1896 ; January, October, 1897 

NattDoab $re00 

J. 8. CuihiDK ft Co. - Berwick ft Smith 

Norwood liMf. U.8. A. 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 

tETo ms ISrotiieT anH JmnH 



Digitized by VjOOQIC 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


Digitized by VjOOQIC 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 



"Well, that's over, thank Heaven!'' 

The young man speaking drew in his head from the 
carriage-window. But instead of sitting down he 
turned with a joyous, excited gesture and lifted the 
flap over the little window in the back of the landau, 
supporting himself, as he stooped to look, by a hand 
on his companion's shoulder. Through this peephole 
he saw, as the horses trotted away, the crowd in the 
main street of Market Malford, still huzzaing and 
waving, the wild glare of half a dozen torches on the 
faces and the moving forms, the closed shops on either 
hand, the irregular roofs and chimneys sharp-cut 
against a wintry sky, and in the far distance the little 
lantern belfry and taller mass of the new town-hall. 

" I'm much astonished the horses didn't bolt ! " said 
the man addressed. "That bay mare would have 
lost all the temper she's got in another moment. It's 
a good thing we made them shut the carriage — it has 
turned abominably cold. Hadn't you better sit down ? " 

And Lord Fontenoy made a movement as though to 
withdraw from the hand on his shoulder. 

VOL. I — B 1 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


The owner of the hand flung himself down on the 
seat, with a word of apology, took off his hat, and 
drew a long breath of fatigue. At the same moment 
a sudden look of disgust effaced the smile with which 
he had taken his last glimpse at the crowd. 

"All very well! — but what one wants after this 
business is a moral tub ! The lies Pve told during the 
last three weeks — the bunkum I've talked! — it's a 
feeling of positive dirt ! And the worst of it is, how- 
ever you may scrub your mind afterwards, some of it 
must stick." 

He took out a cigarette, and lit it at his companion's 
with a rather unsteady hand. He had a thin, long 
face and fair hair ; and one would have guessed him 
some ten years younger than the man beside him. 

" Certainly — it will stick," said the other. " Elec- 
tion promises nowadays are sharply looked after. I 
heard no bunkum. As far as I know, our party doesn't 
talk any. We leave that to the Government ! " 

Sir George Tressady, the young man addressed, 
shrugged his shoulders. His mouth was still twitch- 
ing imder the influence of nervous excitement. But 
as they rolled along between the dark hedges, the 
carriage-lamps shining on their wet branches, green 
yet, in spite of November, he began to recover a half- 
cynical self-control. The poll for the Market MaKord 
Division of West Mercia had been declared that after- 
noon, between two and three o'clock, after a hotly con- 
tested election ; he, as the successful candidate by a 
very naiTow majority, had since addressed a shout- 
ing mob from the balcony of the Greyhoimd Hotel, 
had suffered the usual taking out of horses and tri- 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


umphal dragging through the town, and was now re- 
turning with his supporter and party-leader, Lord 
Fontenoy, to the great Tory mansion which had sent 
them forth in the morning, and had been Tressady's 
headquarters during the greater part of the fight. 

"Did you ever see anyone so down as Bewick?" 
he said presently, with a little leap of laughter. 
" By George ! it is hard lines. I suppose he thought 
himself safe, what with the work he'd done in the 
division and the hold he had on the miners. Then 
a confounded stranger turns up, and the chance of 
seventeen ignorant voters kicks you out! He could 
hardly bring himself to shake hands with me. I had 
come rather to admire him, hadn't you ? " 

Lord Fontenoy nodded. 

"I thought his speeches showed ability," he said 
indifferently, " only of a kind that must be kept out 
of Parliament — that's all. Sorry you have qualms 
— quite unnecessary, I assure you ! At the present 
moment, either Bewick and his like knock imder, 
or you -and your like. This time — by seventeen 
votes — Bewick knocks under. Thank the Lord! 
say I" — and the speaker opened the window an 
instant to knock off the end of his cigar. 

Tressady made no reply. But again a look, half 
chagrined, half reflective, puckered his brow, which 
was smooth, white, and boyish under his straight, 
fair hair; whereas the rest of the face was subtly 
lined, and browned as though by travel and varied 
living. The nose and mouth, though not handsome, 
were small and delicately cut, while the long, pointed 
chin, slightly protruding, made those who disliked 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


him say that he was like those innumerable por- 
traits of Philip IV., by and after Velasquez, which 
bestrew the collections of Europe. But if the Haps- 
burg chin had to be admitted, nothing could be 
more modern, intelligent, alert, than the rest of 

The two rolled along a while in silence. They 
were passing through an undulating midland coun- 
try, dimly seen under the stars. At frequent in- 
tervals rose high mounds, with tall chimneys and 
huddled buildings beside them or upon them which 
marked the sites of collieries ; while the lights also, 
which had begun to twinkle over the face of the 
land, showed that it was thickly inhabited. 

Suddenly the carriage rattled into a village, and 
Tressady looked out. 

"I say, Fontenoy, here^s a crowd! Do you sup- 
pose they know? Why, Gregson's taken us another 
way round ! " 

Lord Fontenoy let down his window, and identi- 
fied the small mining village of Battage. 

"Why did you bring us this way, Gregson?** he 
said to the coachman. 

The man, a Londoner, turned, and spoke in a low 
voice. "I thought we might find some rioting 
going on in Marraby, my lord. And now I see 
there's lots o' them out here!" 

Indeed, with the words he had to check his horses. 
The village street was full from end to end with 
miners just come up from work. Fontenoy at once 
perceived that the news of the election had arrived. 
The men were massed in large groups, talking and 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


discussing, with evident and angry excitement, and 
as soon as the well-known liveries on the box of 
the new member's carriage were identified there 
was an instant rush towards it. Some of the men 
had already gone into their houses on either hand, 
but at the sound of the wheels and the uproar they 
came rushing out again. A howling hubbub arose, 
a confused sound of booing and groaning, and the 
carriage was soon surrounded by grimed men, ges- 
ticulating and shouting. 

"Yer bloated parasites, yer!" cried a young fel- 
low, catching at the door-handle on Lord Fontenoy's 

side; "we'll make a d d end o' yer afore we've 

done wi' yer. Who asked yer to come meddlin in 
Malford — d n yer!" 

"Whativer do we want wi' the loikes o' yo repre- 
sentin us ! " shouted another man, pointing at Tres- 
sady. "Look at 'im; ee can't walk, ee can't; mus 
be druv, poor hinnercent! When did yo iver do a 
day's work, eh? Look at my 'ands! Them's the 
'ands for honest men — ain't they, you fellers?" 

There was a roar of laughter and approval from 
the crowd, and up went a forest of begrimed hands, 
flourishing and waving. 

George calmly put down the carriage-window, and, 
leaning his arms upon it, put his head out. He flung 
some good-humoured banter at some of the nearest 
men, and two or three responded. But the majority 
of the faces were lowering and fierce, and the horses 
were becoming inconveniently crowded. 

"Get on, Gregson," said Fontenoy, opening the 
front window of the brougham. 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


"If they'll let me, your lordship," said Gregson, 
rather pale, raising his whip. 

The horses made a sudden start forward. There 
was a yell from the crowd, and three or four men 
had just dashed for the horses' heads, when a shout 
of a different kind ascended. 

"Bewick! 'Ere's Bewick! Three cheers for 
Bewick ! '' 

And some distance behind them, at the corner of 
the village street, Tressady suddenly perceived a 
tall dogcart drawing up with two men in it. It 
was already surrounded by a cheering and tumultu- 
ous assembly, and one of the men in the cart was 
shaking hands right and left. 

George drew in his head, with a laugh. "This 
is dramatic. They've stopped the horses, and here's 

Fontenoy shrugged his shoulders. "They'll black- 
guard us a bit, I suppose, and let us go. Bewick '11 
keep them in order." 

" What d'yer mean by it, heh, dash yer ! " shouted 
a huge man, as he sprang on the step of the carriage 
and shook a black fist in Tressady's face — "thrustin 

yer d d carkiss where yer ain't wanted? We 

wanted 'm, and we've worked for 'im. This is a 
workin-class district, an we've a right to 'im. Do 
yer 'ear ? " 

" Then you should have given him seventeen more 
votes," said George, composedly, as he thrust his 
hands into his pockets. "It's the fortunes of war 
— your turn next time. I say, suppose you tell 
your fellows to let our man get on. We've had a 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


long day, and we're hungry. Ah " — to Fontenoy — 
" here's Bewick coming ! " 

Fontenoy turned, and saw that the dogcart had 
drawn up alongside them, and that one of the men 
was standing on the step of it, holding on to the rail 
of the cart. 

He was a tall, finely built man, and as he looked 
down on the carriage, and on Tressady leaning over 
the window, the light from a street-lamp near showed 
a handsome face blanched with excitement and 

"Now, my friends," he said, raising his arm, and 
addressing the crowd, " yoij let Sir George go home to 
his dinner. He's beaten us, and so far as I know he^s 
fought fair, whatever some of his friends may have 
done for him. I'm going home to have a bite of some- 
thing and a wash. I'm done. Bat if any of you like 
to come round to the club — eight o'clock — I'll tell 
you a thing or two about this election. Now good- 
night to you. Sir George. We'll beat you yet, trust 
us. Fall back there ! " 

He pointed peremptorily to the men holding the 
horses. They and the crowd instantly obeyed him. 

The carriage swept on, followed by the hooting and 
groans of the whole community, men, women, and 
children, who were now massed along the street on 
either hand. 

"It's easy to see this man Gregson's a new hand," 
said Fontenoy, with an accent of annoyance, as they 
got clear of the village. " I believe the Wattons hav^ 
only just imported him, otherwise he'd never have 
avoided Marraby, and come round by Battage." 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


" Battage has some special connection with Bewick, 
hasn't it ? I had forgotten." 

"Of course. He was check-weigher at the Acme 
pit here for years, before they made him district 
secretary of the union." 

" That's why they gave me such a hot meeting here 
a fortnight ago! — I remember now; but one thing 
drives another out of one's head. Well, I daresay 
you and I'll have plenty more to do with Bewick 
before we've done." 

Tressady threw himself back in his corner with a 

Fontenoy laughed. 

"There'll be another ftg strike some time next 
year," he said drily — " bound to be, as far as I can 
see. We shall all have plenty to do with Bewick 

"All right," said Tressady, indistinctly, pulling his 
hat over his eyes. "Bewick or anybody else may 
blow me up next year, so long as they let me go to 
sleep now." 

However, he did not find it so easy to go to sleep. 
His pulses were still tingling under the emotions of 
the day and the stimulus of the hubbub they had just 
passed through. His mind raced backwards and for- 
wards over the incidents and excitements of the last 
six months, over the scenes of his canvass — and over 
some other scenes of a different kind which had taken 
place in the country-house whither he and Fontenoy 
were returning. 

But he did his best to feign sleep. His one desire 
was that Fontenoy should not talk to him. Fontenoy, 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


however, was not easily taken in, and no sooner did 
George make his first restless movement under the 
mg he had drawn over him, than his companion 
broke silence. 

"By the way, what did you think of that memo- 
randum of mine on Maxwell's bill?" 

George fidgeted and mumbled. Fontenoy, un- 
daunted, began to harangue on certain minutiae of 
factory law with a monotonous zest of voice and 
gesture which seemed to Tressady nothing short of 

He watched the speaker a minute or two through 
his half-shut eyes. So thi^ was his leader to be — 
the man who had made him member for Market 

Eight years before, when George Tressady had first 
entered Christchurch, he had found that place of tem- 
pered learning alive with traditions on the subject 
of "Dicky Fontenoy." And such traditions — good 
Heavens ! Subsequently, at most race-meetings, large 
and small, and at various clubs, theatres, and places 
of public resort, the younger man had had his op- 
portunities of observing the elder, and had used them 
always with relish, and sometimes with admiration. 
He himself had no desire to follow in Fontenoy's 
footsteps. Other elements rided in him, which drew 
him other ways. But there was a magnificence about 
the impetuosity, or rather the doggedness with which 
Fontenoy had plunged into the business of ruining 
himself, which stirred the imagination. On the last 
occasion, some three and a half years before this 
Market Malford election, when Tressady had seen 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


Fontenoy before starting himself on a long Eastern 
tour, he had been conscious of a lively curiosity as 
to what might have happened to "Dicky" by the 
time he came back again. The eldest sons of peers 
do not generally come to the workhouse; but there 
are aristocratic substitutes which, relatively, are not 
much less disagreeable ; and George hardly saw how 
they were to be escaped. 

And now — not four years! — and here sat Dicky 
Fontenoy, haranguing on the dull clauses of a techni- 
cal act, throat hoarse with the speaking of the last 
three weeks, eyes cavernous with anxiety and over- 
work, the creator and leader of a political party which 
did not exist when Tressady left England, and now 
bade fair to hold the balance of power in English gov- 
ernment! The surprises of fate and character! Tres- 
sady pondered them a little in a sleepy way ; but the 
fatigue of many days asserted itself. Even his com- 
panion was soon obliged to give him up as a listener. 
Lord Fontenoy ceased to talk; yet every now and 
then, as some jolt of the carriage made George open 
his eyes, he saw the broad-shouldered figure beside 
him, sitting in the same attitude, erect and tireless, 
the same half-peevish pugnacity giving expression to 
mouth and eye. 

" Come, wake up, Tressady I Here we are ! '' 
There was a vindictive eagerness in Fontenoy's 
voice. Ease was no longer welcome to him, whether 
in himself or as a spectacle in other men. George, 
startled from a momentary profundity of sleep, stag- 
gered to his feet; and clutched at various bags and rugs. 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


The carriage was standing imder the pillared porch 
of Malford House, and the great house-doors, thrown 
back upon an inner flight of marble steps, gave pas- 
sage to a blaze of light. George, descending, had just 
shaken himself awake, and handed the things he held 
to a footman, when there was a sudden uproar from 
within. A crowd of figures — men and women, the 
men cheering, the women clapping and laughing — 
ran down the inner steps towards him. He was sur- 
rounded, embraced, slapped on the back, and finally 
carried triumphantly into the hall. 

"Bring him in!" said an exultant voice; "and 
stand back, please, and let his mother get at him." 

The laughing group fell back, and George, blinking, 
radiant, and abashed, found himself in the arms of 
an exceedingly sprightly and youthful dame, with 
pale, frizzled hair, and the figure of seventeen. 

" Oh, you dear, great, foolish thing ! " said the lady, 
with the voice and the fervour, moreover, of seventeen. 
" So you've got in — you've done it ! Well, I should 
never have spoken to you again if you hadn't ! And 
I suppose you'd have minded that a little — from 
your own mother. Goodness ! how cold he is ! " 

And she flew at him with little pecking kisses, re- 
treating every now and again to look at him, and then 
closing upon him again in ecstasy, till George, at the 
end of his patience, held her off with a strong arm. 

"Now, mother, that's enough. Have the others 
been home long?" he asked, addressing a smiling 
young man in knickerbockers who, with his hands in 
his pockets, was standing beside the hero of the occa- 
sion surveying the scene. 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


"Oh! about half an hour. They reported you'd 
have some difficulty in getting out of the clutches of 
the crowd. We hardly expected you so soon." 

" How's Miss SewelPs headache ? Does she know ? " 

The expression of the young man's eye, which was 
bent on Tressady, changed ever so slightly as he replied: 

" Oh yes, she knows. As soon as the others got back 
Mrs. Watton went up to tell her. She didn't show at 

"Mrs. Watton came to tell me — naughty man!" 
said the lady whom George had addressed as his 
mother, tapping the speaker on the arm with her fan. 
" Mothers first, if you please, especially when they're 
cripples like me, and can't go and see their dear dar- 
lings' triumphs with their own eyes. And / told Miss 

She put her head on one side, and looked archly at 
her son. Her high gown, a work of the most ap- 
proved Parisian art, was so cut as to show much more 
throat than usual, and, in addition, a row of very fine 
pearls. Her very elegant waist and bust were defined 
by a sort of Empire sash;. her complexion did her 
maid and, indeed, her years, infinite credit. 

George flushed slightly at his mother's words, and 
was turning away from her when he was gripped by 
the owner of the house. Squire Watton, an eloquent 
and soft-hearted old gentleman who, having in 
George's opinion already overdone it greatly at the 
town-hall in the way of hand-shaking and congratu- 
lations, was now most unreasonably prepared to over- 
do it again. Lady Tressady joined in with little 
shrieks and sallies, the other guests of the house 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


gathered round, and the hero of the day was once 
more lost to sight and hearing amid the general hub- 
bub of talk and laughter — for the young man in 
knickerbockers, at any rate, who stood a little way 
off from the rest. 

" I wonder when she'll condescend to come down," 
he said to himself, examining his boots with a specu- 
lative smile. " Of course it was mere caprice that she 
didn't go to Malf ord ; she meant it to annoy." 

" I say, do let me get warm," said Tressady at last, 
breaking from his tormentors, and coming up to the 
open log fire, in front of which the young man stood. 
" Where's Fontenoy vanished to ? " 

" Went up to write letters directly he had swallowed 
a cup of tea," said the young man, whose name was 
Bayle ; " and called Marks to go with him." (Marks 
was Lord Fontenoy's private secretary.) 

George Tressady threw up his hands in disgust. 

"It's absurd. He never allows himself an hour's 
peace. If he expects me to grind as he does, he'll 
soon regret that he lent a hand to put me into Parlia- 
ment. Well, I'm stiff all over, and as tired as a rat. 
I'll go and have a warm bath before dinner." 

But still he lingered, warming his hands over the 
blaze, and every now and then scanning the gal- 
lery which ran round the big hall. Bayle chatted to 
him about some of the incidents of the day. George 
answered at random. He did, indeed, look tired out, 
and his expression was restless and discontented. 

Suddenly there was a cry from the group of young 
men and maidens who were amusing themselves in 
the centre of the hall. 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


" Why, there's Letty ! and as fresh as paint.'^ 

George turned abruptly. Bayle saw his manner 
stiffen and his eye kindle. 

A young girl was slowly coming down the great 
staircase which led to the hall. She was in a soft 
black dress with a blue sash, and a knot of blue at her 
throat — a childish slip of a dress, which answered 
to her small rounded form, her curly head, and the 
hand slipping along the marble rail. She came down 
silently smiling, taking each step with great delibera- 
tion, in spite of the outbreak of half-derisive sympathy 
with which she was greeted from her friends below. 
Her bright eyes glanced from face to face — from the 
mocking inquirers immediately beneath her to Greorge 
Tressady standing by the fire. 

At the moment when she reached the last step 
Tressady found it necessary to put another log on a 
fire already piled to repletion. 

Meanwhile Miss Sewell went straight towards the 
new member and held out her hand. 

" I am so glad, Sir George ; let me congratulate you.'' 

George put down his log, and then looked at his 
fingers critically. 

" I am very sorry, Miss Sewell, but I am not fit to 
touch. I hope your headache is better." 

Miss Sewell dropped her hand meekly, shot him a 
glance which was not meek, and said demurely : 

" Oh ! my headaches do what they're told. You see, 
I was determined to come down and congratulate you." 

" I see," he repeated, making her a little bow. " I 
hope my ailments, when I get them, will be as docile. 
So my mother told you ? " 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


" I didn't want telling," she said placidly. " I knew 
it was all safe." 

"Then you knew what only the gods knew — for 
I only got in by seventeen votes." 

"Yes, so I heard. I was very sorry for Be- 

She put one foot on the stone fender, raised her 
pretty dress with one hand, and leant the other lightly 
against the mantelpiece. The attitude was full of 
grace, and the little sighing voice fitted the curves 
of a mouth which seemed always ready to laugh, yet 
seldom laughed frankly. 

As she made her remark about Bewick Tressady 

" My prophetic soul was right," he said deliberately ; 
" I knew you would be sorry for Bewick." 

" Well, it is hard on him, isn't it ? You can't deny 
you're a carpet-bagger, can you ? " 

" Why should I ? I'm proud of it." 

Then he looked round him. The rest of the party 
— not without whispers and smothered laughter — 
had withdrawn from them. Some of the ladies had 
already gone up to dress. The men had wandered 
away into a little library and smoking-room which 
opened on the hall. Only the squire, safe in a capa- 
cious armchair a little way off, was absorbed in a local 
paper and the last humours of the election. 

Satisfied with his glance, Tressady put his hands 
into his pockets, and leant back against the fireplace, 
in a way to give himself fuller command of Miss 
Sewell's countenance. 

"Do you never give your friends any better sym- 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


pathy than you have given me in this affair^ Miss 
Sewell ? '' he said suddenly, as their eyes met. 

She made a little face. 

*^ Why, I've been an angel I '* she said, poking at a 
prominent log with her foot. 

George laughed. 

*' Then our ideas of angels agree no better than the 
rest. Why didn't you come and hear the poll de- 
clared, after promising me you would be there ? " 

" Because I had a headache. Sir Greorge." 

He responded with a little inclination, as though 
ceremoniously accepting her statement. 

" May I ask at what time your headache began ? " 

"Let me see," she said, laughing j "I think it was 
directly after breakfast.'' 

" Yes. It declared itself, if I remember right, im- 
mediately after certain remarks of mine about a Cap- 
tain Addison ? " 

He looked straight before him, with a detached air. 

" Yes," said Letty, thoughtfully ; " it was a curious 
coincidence, wasn't it ? " 

There was a moment's silence. Then she broke 
into infectious laughter. 

" Don't you know," she said, laying her hand on his 
shoulder — " don't you know that you're a most foolish 
and wasteful person ? We get along capitally, you and 
I — we've had a rattling time all this week — and 
then you will go and make uncivil remarks about my 
friends — in public, too ! You actually think I'm go- 
ing to let you tell Aunt Watton how to manage me ! 
You get me into no end of a fuss — it'll take me weeks 
to undo the mischief you've been making — and then 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


you expect me to take it like a lamb ! Now, do I look 
like a lamb ? " 

All this time she was holding him tight by the arm, 
and her dimpled face, alive with mirth and malice, was 
so close to his that a moment's wild impulse flashed 
through him to kiss her there and then. But the im- 
pulse passed. He and Letty Sewell had known each 
other for about three weeks. They were not engaged 
— far from it. And these — the hand on the arm, and 
the rest — were Letty SewelFs ways. 

Instead of kissing her, then, he scanned her deliber- 

"I never saw anyone more plainly given over to 
obstinacy and pride," he said quietly ; " I told you 
some plain facts about the character of a man whom 
I know, and you don't, whereupon you sulk all day, 
you break all your promises about coming to Malford, 
and when I come back you call me names." 

She raised her eyebrows and withdrew her hand. 

"Well, it's plain, isn't it? that I must have been 
in a great rage. It was very dull upstairs, though I 
did write reams to my best friend all about you — a 
very candid account — I shall have to soften it down. 
By the way, are you ever going to dress for dinner ? " 

George started, and looked at his watch. 

"Are we alone ? Is anyone coming from outside ? " 

" Only a few 'locals,' just to celebrate the occasion. 
I know the clergyman's wife's coming, for she told me 
she had been copying one of my frocks, and wanted 
me to tell her what I thought" 

George laughed. 

"Poor lady!" 

VOL. I — 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


" I don't think I shall be nice to her/' said Letty, 
playing with a flower on the mantelpiece. "Dowdy 
people make me feel wicked. Well, / must dress." 

It was now his turn to lay a detaining hand. 

" Are you sorry ? " he said, bending over to her. 
His bright grey eyes had shaken off fatigue. 

" For what ? Because you got in ? " 

Her face overflowed with laughter. He let her go. 
She linked her arm in that of the daughter of the 
house — Miss Florence Watton — who was crossing 
the hall at the moment, and the two went upstairs 
together, she throwing back one triumphant glance at 
him from the landing. 

George stood watching them till they disappeared. 
His expression was neither soft nor angry. There 
was in it a mocking self-possession which showed 
that he too had been playing a part — mingled, per- 
haps, with a certain perplexity. 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


George Tbessady came down very late for dinner, 
and found his hostess on the verge of annoyance. 
Mrs. Watton was a large, commanding woman, who 
seldom thought it worth while to disguise any disap- 
proval she might feel — and she had a great deal of 
that commodity to expend, both on persons and institu- 

George hastened to propitiate her with the usual 
futilities : he had supposed that he was in excellent 
time, his watch had been playing tricks, and so on. 

Mrs. Watton, who, after all, on this great day be- 
held in the new member the visible triumph of her 
dearest principles, received these excuses at first with 
stiffness, but soon thawed. 

"Oh, you naughty boy, you naughty, mendacious 
boy ! " said a sprightly voice in Tressady's ear. " ^ Ex- 
cellent time,' indeed ! I saw you — for shame ! '' 

And Lady Tressady flounced away from her son, 
laughing over her shoulder in one of her accustomed 
poses. She wore white muslin over cherry-coloured 
silk. The display of neck and shoulders could hardly 
have been more lavish ; and the rouge on her cheeks 
had been overdone, which rarely happened. George 
turned from her hurriedly to speak to Lord Fontenoy. 

" What a fool that woman is ! " thought Mrs. Watton 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


to herself, as her sharp eye followed her guest. " She 
will make George positively dislike her soon — and all 
the time she is bound to get him to pay her debts, or 
there will be a smash. What! dinner? John, will 
you please take Lady Tressady; Harding, will you 
take Mrs. Hawkins" — pointing her second son towards 
a lady in black sitting stiffly on the edge of an otto- 
man; "Mr. Hawkins takes Florence; Sir George" — 
she waved her hand towards Miss Sewell. "Now, 
Lord Fontenoy, you must take me; and the rest of 
you sort yourselves." 

As the young people, mostly cousins, laughingly 
did what they were told. Sir George held out his arm 
to Miss Sewell. 

" I am very sorry for you," he said, as they passed 
into the dining-room. 

" Oh ! I knew it would be my turn," said Letty, with 
resignation. "You see, you took Florrie last night, 
and Aunt Watton the night before." 

George settled himself deliberately in his chair, and 
turned to study his companion. 

"Do you mind warning me, to begin with, how I 
can avoid giving you a headache? Since this morning 
my nerve has gone — I want directions." 

"Well — " said Letty, pondering, "let us lay down 
the subjects we may talk about first. For instance, 
you may talk of Mrs. Hawkins." 

She gave an imperceptible nod which directed his 
eyes to the thin woman sitting opposite, to whom 
Harding Watton, a fashionable and fastidious youth, 
was paying but scant attention. 

George examined her. 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


" I don't want to/' he said shortly ; " besides, she 
would last us no time at all." 

"Oh! — on the contrary," said Letty, with malice 
sparkling in her brown eye, " she would last me a good 
twenty minutes. She has got on my gown." 

" I didn't recognise it," said George, studying the 
thin lady again. 

" I wouldn't mind," said Letty, in the same tone of 
reflection, " if Mrs. Hawkins didn't think it her duty 
to lecture me in the intervals of copying my frocks. 
If I disapproved of anybody, I don't think I should 
send my nurse to ask their maid for patterns." 

" I notice you take disapproval very calmly." 

" Callously, you mean. Well, it is my misfortune. 
I always feel myself so much more reasonable than 
the people who disapprove." 

"This morning, then, you thought me a fool ?" 

"Oh no! Only — well — I knew, you see, that I 
knew better. / was reasonable, and — " 

"Oh! don't finish," said George, hastily; "and 
don't suppose that I shall ever give you any more 
good advice." 

"Won't you?" 

Her mocking look sent a challenge, which he met 
with outward firmness. Meanwhile he was inwardly 
haunted by a phrase he had once heard a woman apply 
to the mental capacities of her best friend. "Her 
mind? — her mind, my dear, is a shallow chaos!" 
The words made a neat label, he scoffingly thought, 
for his own present sensations. For he could not 
persuade himself that there was much profundity in 
his feelings towards Miss Sewell, whatever reckless 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


possibilities life might seem to hold at times; when, 
for instance, she wore that particular pink gown in 
which she was attired to-night, or when her little im- 
pertinent airs suited her as well as they were suiting 
her just now. Something cool and critical in him was 
judging her all the time. Ten years hence, he made 
himself reflect, she would probably have no prettiness 
left. Whereas now, what with bloom and grace, what 
with small proportions and movements light as air, 
what with an inventive refinement in dress and per- 
sonal adornment that never failed, all Letty SewelPs 
defects of feature or expression were easily lost in a 
general aspect which most men found dazzling and 
perturbing enough. Letty, at any rate within her 
own circle, had never yet been without partners, or 
lovers, or any other form of girlish excitement that 
she desired, and had been generally supposed — though 
she herself was aware of some strong evidence to the 
contrary — to be capable of getting anything she had 
set her mind upon. She had set her mind, as the 
spectators in this particular case had speedily divined, 
upon enslaving young George Tressady. And she had 
not failed. For even during these last stirring days 
it had been tolerably clear that she and his election 
had divided Tressady's mind between them, with a 
balance, perhaps, to her side. As to the measure of 
her success, however, that was still doubtful — to her- 
self and him most of all. 

To-night, at any rate, he could not detach himself 
from her. He tried repeatedly to talk to the girl on 
his left, a noble-faced child fresh out of the school- 
room, who in three years' time would be as much 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


Letty Sewell's superior in beauty as in other things. 
But the effort was too great. The strenuous business 
of the day had but left him — in fatigue and reaction 
— the more athirst for amusement and the gratifica- 
tion of another set of powers. He turned back to 
Letty, and through course after course they chattered 
and sparred, discussing people, plays and books, or 
rather, under cover of these, a number of those topics 
on the borderland of passion whereby men and women 
make their first snatches at intimacy — till Mrs. Wat- 
ton's sharp grey eyes smiled behind her fan, and the 
attention of her neighbour. Lord Fontenoy — an uneasy 
attention — was again and again drawn to the pair. 

Meanwhile, during the first half of dinner, a chair im- 
mediately opposite to Tressady's place remained vacant. 
It was being kept for the eldest son of the house, his 
mother explaining carelessly to Lord Fontenoy that she 
believed he was " Out parish-ing somewhere, as usual." 

However, with the appearance of the pheasants the 
door from the drawing-room opened, and a slim dark- 
haired man slipped in. He took his place noiselessly, 
with a smile of greeting to George and his neighbour, 
and bade the butler in a whisper aside bring him any 
course that might be going. 

" Nonsense, Edward ! '' said his mother's loud voice 
from the head of the table; "don't be ridiculous. 
Morris, bring back that hare entree and the mutton 
for Mr. Edward." 

The newcomer raised his eyebrows mildly, smiled, 
and submitted. 

"Where have you been, Edward?" said Tressady; 
" I haven't seen you since the town-hall." 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


"I have been at a rehearsal. There is a parish 
concert next week, and I conduct these functions." 

" The concerts are always bad," said Mrs. Watton, 

Edward Watton shrugged his shoulder. He had 
a charming timid air, contradicted now and then by a 
look of enthusiastic resolution in the eyes. 

"All the more reason for rehearsal," he said. 
"However, really, they won't do badly this time." 

" Edward is one of the persons," said Mrs. Watton 
in a low aside to Lord Fontenoy, " who think you can 
make friends with people — the lower orders — by 
shaking hands with them, showing them Burne- 
Jones's pictures, and singing ^The Messiah' with 
them. I had the same idea once. Everybody had. 
It was like the measles. But the sensible persons 
have got over it." 

" Thank you, mamma," said Watton, making her a 
smiling bow. 

Lady Tressady interrupted her talk with the squire 
at the other end of the table to observe what was going 
on. She had been chattering very fast in a shrill, 
affected voice, with a gesticulation so free and French, 
and a face so close to his, that the nervous and finick- 
ing squire had been every moment afraid lest the next 
should find her white fingers in his very eyes. He 
felt an inward spasm of relief when he saw her atten- 
tion diverted. 

" Is that Mr. Edward talking his Eadicalism ? " she 
asked, putting up a gold eyeglass — " his dear, wicked 
Eadicalism? Ah! we all know where Mr. Edward 
got it." 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


The table laughed. Harding Watton looked par- 
ticularly amused. 

"Egeria was in this neighbourhood last week," he 
said, addressing Lady Tressady. " Edward rode over 
to see her. Since then he has joined two new soci- 
eties, and ordered six new books on the Labour 

Edward flushed a little, but went on eating his 
dinner without any other sign of disturbance. 

"If you mean Lady Maxwell," he said good- 
humouredly, " I can only be sorry for the rest of you 
that you don't know her." 

He raised his handsome head with a bright air of 
challenge that became him, but at the same time 
exasperated his mother. 

" That woman ! " said Mrs. Watton with ponderous 
force, throwing up her hands as she spoke. Then she 
turned to Lord Fontenoy. " Don't you regard her as 
the source of half the mischievous work done by this 
precious Government in the last two years?" she 
asked him imperiously. 

A half-contemptuous smile crossed Lord Fontenoy's 
worn face. 

"Well, really, I'm not inclined to make Lady 
Maxwell the scapegoat. Let them bear their own 

" Besides, what worse can you say of English Min- 
isters than that they should be led by a woman ? " said 
Mr. Watton, from the bottom of the table, in a piping 
voice. "In my young days such a state of things 
would have been unheard of. No offence, my dear, 
no offence," he added hastily, glancing at his wife. 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


Letty glanced at George, and put up a handkerchief 
to hide her own merriment. 

Mrs. Watton looked impatient. 

" Plenty of English Cabinet Ministers have been led 
by women before now," she said drily ; " and no blame 
to them or anybody else. Only in the old days you 
knew where you were. Women were corrupt — as they 
were meant to be — for their husbands and brothers 
and sons. They wanted something for somebody — 
and got it. Now they are corrupt — like Lady Max- 
well — for what they are pleased to call ^causes/ and 
it is that which will take the nation to ruin." 

At this there was an incautious protest from Edward 
Watton against the word " corrupt," followed by a con- 
firmatory clamour from his mother and brother which 
seemed to fill the dining-room. Lady Tressady threw 
in affected comments from time to time, trying hard 
to hold her own in the conversation by a liberal use of 
fan and Christian names, and little personal audacities 
applied to each speaker in turn. Only Edward Wat- 
ton, however, occasionally took civil or smiling notice 
of her ; the others ignored her. They were engaged 
in a congenial task, the hunting of the one disaffected 
and insubordinate member of their pack, and had 
for the moment no attention to spare for other 

" I shall see the great lady, I suppose, in a week or 
two," said George to Miss Sewell, under cover of the 
noise. " It is curious that I should never have seen 

" Who ? Lady Maxwell ? " 

"Yes. You remember I have been four years out 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


of England. She was in town, I suppose, the year 
before I left, but I never came across her." 

"I prophesy you will like her enormously," said 
Letty, with decision. " At least, I know that's what 
happens to me when Aunt Watton abuses anybody. I 
couldn't dislike them afterwards if I tried." 

" That, allow me to impress upon you, is not my dis- 
position ! I am a human being — I am influenced by 
my friends." 

He turned round towards her so as to appropriate 
her again. 

" Oh ! you are not at all the poor creature you paint 
yourself ! " said Letty, shaking her head. " In reality, 
you are the most obstinate person I know — you can 
never let a subject alone — you never know when 
you're beaten." 

"Beaten?" said George, reflectively; "by a head- 
ache ? Well, there is no disgrace in that. One will 
probably ^ live to fight another day.' Do you mean to 
say that you will take no notice — no notice — of all 
that array of facts I laid before you this morning on 
the subject of Captain Addison ? " 

" I shall be kind to you, and forget them. Now, do 
listen to Aunt Watton ! It is your duty. Aunt Wat- 
ton is accustomed to be listened to, and you haven't 
heard it all a hundred times before, as I have." 

Mrs. Watton, indeed, was haranguing her end of the 
table on a subject that clearly excited her. Contempt 
and antagonism gave a fine energy to a head and face 
already sufficiently expressive. Both were on a large 
scale, but without commonness. The old-lace coif she 
wore suited her waved and grizzled hair, and was car- 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


ried with conscious dignity ; the hand, which lay be- 
side her on the table, though long and bony, was full 
of nervous distinction. Mrs. Watton was, and looked, 
a tyrant — but a tyrant of ability. 

" A neighbour of theirs in Brookshire," she was say- 
ing, " was giving me last week the most extraordinary 
account of the doings at Mellor. She was the heiress 
of that house at Mellor " — here she addressed young 
Bayle, who, as a comparative stranger in the house, 
might be supposed to be ignorant of facts which every- 
body else knew — "a tumbledown place with an in- 
come of about two thousand a year. Directly she 
married she put a Socialist of the most unscrupulous 
type — so they tell me — into possession. The man 
has established what they call a * standard rate' of 
wages for the estate — practically double the normal 
rate — coerced all the farmers, and made the neigh- 
bours furious. They say the whole district is in a 
ferment. It used to be the quietest part of the world 
imaginable, and now she has set it all by the ears. 
ShCy having married thirty thousand a year, can afford 
her little amusements; other people, who must live 
by their land, have their lives worried out of them." 

" She tells me that the system works on the whole 
extremely well,'' said Edward Watton, whose height- 
ened colour alone betrayed the irritation of his 
mother's chronic aggression, "and that Maxwell is 
not at all unlikely to adopt it on his own estate." 

Mrs. Watton threw up her hands again. 

"The idiocy of that man! Till he married her he 
was a man of sense. And now she leads him by the 
nose, and whatever tune he calls, the Government 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


must dance to, because of his power in the House of 

"And the worst of it is," said Harding Watton, 
with an unpleasant laugh, "that if she were not a 
handsome woman, her influence would not be half 
what it is. She uses her beauty in the most un- 
scrupulous way." 

" I believe that to be entirely untrue," said Edward 
Watton, with emphasis, looking at his brother with 

George Tressady interrupted. He had an affection 
for Edward Watton, and cordially disliked Harding. 
" Is she really so handsome ? " he asked, bending for- 
ward and addressing his hostess. 

Mrs. Watton scornfully took no notice. 

"Well, an old diplomat told me the other day," said 
Lord Fontenoy — but with a cold unwillingness, as 
though he disliked the subject — "that she was the 
most beautiful woman, he thought, that had been seen 
in London since Lady Blessington's time." 

"Lady Blessington! dear, dear! — Lady Blessing- 
ton ! " said Lady Tressady with malicious emphasis — 
"an unfortunate comparison, don't you think? Not 
many people would like to be regarded as Lady 
Blessington's successor." 

"In any other respect than beauty," said Edward 
Watton, haughtily, with the same tension as before, 
"the comparison, of course, would be ridiculous." 

Harding shrugged his shoulders, and, tilting his 
chair back, said in the ear of a shy young man who 
sat next him : 

" In my opinion, the Count d'Orsay is only a ques- 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


tion of time! However, one mustn't say that to 

Harding read memoirs, and considered himself a 
man of general cultivation. The young man ad- 
dressed, who read no printed matter outside the 
sporting papers that he could help, and had no idea 
as to who Lady Blessington and Count d'Orsay might 
be, smiled vaguely, and said nothing. 

" My dear," said the squire, plaintively, " isn't this 
room extremely hot ? " 

There was a ripple of meaning laughter from all the 
young people, to many of whom this particular quarrel 
was already tiresomely familiar. Mr. Watton, who 
never understood anything, loofeed round with an 
inquiring air. Mrs. Watton condescended to take 
the hint and retire. 

In the drawing-room afterwards Mrs. Watton first 
allotted a duty-conversation of some ten minutes in 
length, and dealing strictly with the affairs of the 
parish, to Mrs. Hawkins, who, as clergyman's wife, 
had a definite official place in the Malford House 
circle, quite irrespective of any individuality she 
might happen to possess. Mrs. Hawkins was plain, 
self-conscious, and in no way interesting to Mrs. 
Watton, who never took the smallest trouble to ap- 
proach her in any other capacity than that upon 
which she had entered by marrying the incumbent 
of the squire's home living. But the civilities and 
respects that were recognised as belonging to her 
station she received. 

This however, alas! was not enough for Mrs. 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


Hawkins, who was full of ambitions, which a bad 
manner, a plague of shyness, and a narrow income, 
were perpetually thwarting. As soon as the ten min- 
utes were over, and Mrs. Watton, who was nothing 
if not political, and saw no occasion to make a stran- 
ger of the vicar's wife, had plunged into the evening 
papers brought her by the footman, Mrs. Hawkins 
threw herself on Letty Sewell. She was effusively 
grateful — too grateful — for the patterns lent her by 
Miss Sewell's maid. 

"Did she lend you some patterns?" said Letty, 
raising her brows. " Dear me ; I didn't know.'' 

And her eyes ran coolly over Mrs. Hawkins's attire, 
which did, indeed, present a village imitation of the 
delicate gown in which Miss Sewell had robed herself 
for the evening. 

Mrs. Hawkins coloured. 

"I specially told my nurse," she said hastily, "that 
of course your leave must be asked. But my nurse 
and your maid seem to have made friends. Of course 
my nurse has plenty of time for dressmaking with only 
one child of four to look after, and — and — one really 
gets no new ideas in a poky place like this. But I 
would not have taken a liberty for the world." 

Her pride and mauvaise honte together made both 
voice and manner particularly unattractive. Letty 
was seized with the same temper that little boys 
show towards flies. 

" Of course I am delighted ! " she said indifferently. 
"It's so nice and good to have one's things made at 
home. Your nurse must be a treasure." 

All the time her gaze was diligently inspecting 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


every ill-cut seam and tortured trimming of the home- 
made triumph before her. The ear of the vicar's wife, 
always morbidly sensitive in that particular drawing- 
room, caught a tone of insult in every light word. 
A passionate resentment flamed up in her, and she 
determined to hold her own. 

" Are you going in for more visits when you leave 
here ? " she inquired. 

" Yes, two or three," said Letty, turning her deli- 
cate head unwittingly. She had been throwing blan- 
dishments to Mrs. Watton's dog, a grey Aberdeen 
terrier, who stood on the rug quietly regarding her. 

" You spend most of the year in visits, don't you ? " 

" Well, a good deal of it," said Letty. 

" Don't you find it dreadfully time-wasting ? Does 
it leave you leisure for any serious occupations at all ? 
I am afraid it would make me terribly idle ! " 

Mrs. Hawkins laughed, attempting a tone of banter. 

Letty put up a small hand to hide a sudden yawn, 
which, however, was visible enough. 

"Would it?" she said, with an impertinence which 
hardly tried to conceal itself. "Evelyn, do look at 
that dog. Doesn't he remind you of Mr. Bay ley?" 

She beckoned to the handsome child of sixteen who 
had sat on George Tressady's left hand at dinner, 
and, taking up a pinch of rose-leaves that had 
dropped from a vase beside her, she flung them at 
the dog, calling him to her. Instead of going to her, 
however, the dog slowly curled himself up on the 
rug, and, laying his nose along his front paws, stared 
at her steadily with the expression of one mounting 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


"He never will make friends with you, Letty. 
Isn't it odd?" said Evelyn, laughing, and stooping 
to stroke the creature. 

"Never mind; other dogs will. Did you see that 
adorable black Spitz of Lady Arthur's? She has 
promised to give me one." 

The two cousins fell into a chatter about their 
county neighbours, mostly rich and aristocratic peo- 
ple, of whom Mrs. Hawkins knew little or nothing. 
Evelyn Watton, whose instincts were quick and gen- 
erous, tried again and again to draw the vicar's wife 
into the conversation. Letty was determined to ex- 
clude her. She lay back against the sofa, chatting her 
liveliest, the whiteness of her neck and cheek shin- 
ing against the red of the damask behind, one foot 
lightly crossed ovet the other, showing her costly 
little slippers with their paste buckles. She sparkled 
with jewels as much as a girl may — more, indeed, 
in Mrs. Hawkins's opinion, than a girl should. From 
head to foot she breathed affluence, seduction, success 
— only the seduction was not for Mrs. Hawkins and 
her like. 

The vicar's wife sat flushed and erect on her chair, 
disdaining after a time to make any further effort, 
but inwardly intolerably sore. She could not despise 
Letty Sewell, unfortunately, since Letty's advantages 
were just those that she herself most desired. But 
there was something else in her mind than small 
jealousy. When Letty had been a brilliant child in 
short frocks, the vicar's wife, who was scarcely six 
years older, had opened her heart, had tried to make 
herself loved by Mrs. Watton's niece. There had 

VOL. I — D 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


been a moment when they had been "Madge" and 
" Letty " to each other, even since Letty had " come 
out." Now, whenever Mrs. Hawkins attempted the 
Christian name, it stuck in her throat; it seemed, 
even to herself, a familiarity that had nothing to 
go upon; while with every succeeding visit to Mal- 
ford, Letty had dropped her former friend more 
decidedly, and "Madge" was heard no more. 

The gentlemen, deep in election incident and gos- 
sip, were, in the view chiefly of the successful candi- 
date, unreasonably long in leaving the dining-room. 
When they appeared at last, George Tressady once 
more made an attempt to talk to someone else than 
Letty Sewell, and once more failed. 

"I want you to tell me something about Miss 
Sewell," said Lord Fontenoy presently in Mrs. Wat- 
ton's ear. He had been sitting silent beside her on 
the sofa for some little time, apparently toying with 
the evening papers, which Mrs. Watton had relin- 
quished to him. 

Mrs. Watton looked up, followed the direction 
of his eyes towards a settee in a distant corner 
of the room, and showed a half-impatient amuse- 

"Letty? Oh! Letty's my niece — the daughter of 
my brother, Walter Sewell, of Helbeck. They live in 
Yorkshire. My brother has my father's place — a 
small estate, and rents very irregular. I often won- 
der how they manage to dress that child as they do. 
However, she has always had her own way since she 
was a foot high. As for my poor brother, he has 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


been an invalid for the last ten years^ and neither he 
nor his wife — oh! such a stupid woman!" — Mrs. 
Watton's energetic hands and eyes once more, called 
Heaven to witness — " have ever counted for much, I 
should say, in Letty's career. There is another sis- 
ter, a little delicate, silent thing, that looks after 
them. Oh! Letty isn't stupid; I should think not. 
I suppose you're alarmed about Sir George. You 
needn't be. She does it with everybody." 

The candid aunt pursued the conversation a little 
further, in the same tone of a half -caustic indulgence. 
At the end of it, however. Lord Fontenoy was still 
uneasy. He had only migrated to Malford House for 
the declaration of the poll, having spent the canvass- 
ing weeks mainly in another part of the division. 
And now, on this triumphant evening, he was con- 
scious of a sudden sense of defective information, 
which was disagreeable and damping. 

When bedtime came, Letty lingered in the draw- 
ing-room a little behind the other ladies, on the plea 
of gathering up some trifles that belonged to her. 
So that when George Tressady went out with her to 
light her candle for her in the gallery, they found 
themselves alone. 

He had fallen into a sudden silence, which made 
her sweep him a look of scrutiny as she took her 
candlestick. The slim yet virile figure drawn to its 
full height, the significant, long-chinned face, pleased 
her senses. He might be plain — she supposed he 
was — but he was, nevertheless, distinguished, and 
extraordinarily alive. 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


**I believe you are tired to death," she said to him. 
" Why don't you go to bed? " 

She spoke with the freedom of one accustomed to 
advise all her male acquaintance for their good. 
George laughed. 

" Tired? Not I. I was before dinner. Look here, 
Miss Sewell, I've got a question to ask." 

"Ask it." 

"You don't want to spoil my great day, do you? 
You do repent that headache?" 

They looked at each other, dancing laughter in 
each pair of eyes, combined in his with an excited 

"Good-night, Sir George," she said, holding out 
her hand. 

He retained it. 

"You do?" he said, bending over her. 

She liked the situation, and made no immediate 
effort to change it. 

" Ask me a month hence, when I have proved your 

" Then you admit it was all pretence? " 

"I admit nothing," she said joyously. "I pro- 
tected my friend." 

"Yes, by injuring and offending another friend. 
Would it please you if I said I missed you very 
much at Malford to-day?" 

" I will tell you to-morrow — it is so late ! Please 
let me have my hand." 

He took no notice, and they went hand-in-hand, 
she drawing him, to the foot of the stairs. 

" George ! " said a shrill, hesitating voice from over- 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


George looked up, and saw his mother. He and 
Letty started apart, and in another second Letty had 
glided upstairs and disappeared. 

"Yes, mother," said George, impatiently. 

"Will you come here?" 

He mounted, and found Lady Tressady a little dis- 
composed, but as affected as usual. 

"Oh, George! it was so dark — I didn't see — I 
didn't know. George, will you have half an hour's 
talk with me after breakfast to-morrow? Oh, George, 
my dear boy, my c?ear boy ! Your poor mammy under- 
stands ! " 

She laid one hand on his shoulder and, lifting her 
feather fan in the other, shook it with playful mean- 
ing in the direction whither Letty had departed. 

George hastily withdrew himself. "Of course I 
will have a talk with you, mother. As for anything 
else, I don't know what you mean. But you really 
must let me go to bed; I am much too tired to talk 
now. Good-night." 

Lady Tressady went back to her room, smiling but 

"She has caught him! " she said to herself; "bare- 
faced little flirt! It is not altogether the best thing 
for me. But it may dispose him to be generous, if 
— if I can play my cards." 

Letty Sewell meanwhile had reached the quiet of a 
luxurious bedroom, and summoned her maid to her 
assistance. When the maid departed, the mistress 
held long counsel with herself over the fire : the gen- 
eral position of her affairs; what she desired; what 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


other people intended; her will, and the chances, of 
getting it. Her thoughts dealt with these various 
problems in a skilled and business-like way. To a 
particular form of self-examination Letty was well 
accustomed, and it had become by now a strong agent 
in the development of individuality, as self-examina- 
tion of another sort is said to be by other kinds of 

She herself was pleasantly conscious of real agita- 
tion. George Tressady had touched her feelings, 
thrilled her nerves, more than — Yes! she said to 
herself decidedly, more than anybody else, more than 
"the rest." She thought of "the rest," one after the 
other — thought of them contemptuously. Yet, cer- 
tainly few girls in her own set and part of the coun- 
try had enjoyed a better time — few, perhaps, had 
dared so many adventures. Her mother had never 
interfered with her; and she herself had not been 
afraid to be "talked about." Dances, picnics, moon- 
light walks; the joys of outrageous "sitting-out," and 
hot rivalries with prettier girls; of impertinences 
towards the men who didn't matter, and pretty flat- 
teries towards the men who did — it was all pleasant 
enough to think of. She could not reproach herself 
with having missed any chances, any opportunities 
her own will might have given her. 

And yet — well, she was tired of it! — out of love 
altogether with her maiden state and its opportuni- 
ties. She had come to Malford House in a state of 
soreness, which partly accounted, perhaps, for such 
airs as she had been showing to poor Mrs. Hawkins. 
During the past year a particular marriage — the 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


marriage of her neighbourhood — had seemed inter- 
mittently within her reach. She had played every 
card she knew — and she had failed! Failed, too, in 
the most humiliating way. For the bride, indeed, 
was chosen ; but it was not Letty Sewell, but one of 
Letty's girl-neighbours. 

To-night, almost for the first time, she could bear 
to think of it; she could even smile at it. Vanity 
and ambition alone had been concerned, and to-night 
these wild beasts of the heart were soothed and 

Well, it was no great match, of course — if it came 
off. All that Aunt Watton knew about the Tres- 
sadys had been long since extracted from her by her 
niece. And with Tressady himself Letty's artless 
questions had been very effective. She knew almost 
all that she wished to know. No doubt Ferth was a 
very second-rate " place " ; and, since those horrid 
miners had become so troublesome, his income as a 
coal-owner could not be what his father's had been — 
three or four thousand a year, she supposed — more, 
perhaps, in good years. It was not much. 

Still — she pressed her hands on her eyes — he was 
distinguished; she saw that plainly already. He 
would be welcome anywhex^e. 

"And we are not distinguished — that is just it. 
We are small people, in a rather dull set. And I 
have had hard work to make anything of it. Aunt 
Watton was very lucky to marry as she did. Of 
course, she made Uncle Watton marry her; but that 
was a chance — and papa always says nobody else 
could have done it!" 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


She fell happily thinking of Tressady's skirmishes 
with her, her face dimpling with amusement. Cap- 
tain Addison! How amazed he would be could he 
know the use to which she had put his name and his 
very hesitating attentions. But he would never know ; 
and meanwhile Sir George had been really pricked — 
really jealous ! She laughed to herself — a low laugh 
of pure pleasure. 

Yes — she had made up her mind. With a sigh, 
she put away from her all other and loftier ambitions. 
She supposed that she had not money or family enough. 
One must face the facts. George Tressady would take 
her socially into another milieu than her own, and a 
higher one. She told herself that she had always 
pined for Parliament, politics, and eminent people. 
Why should she not succeed in that world as well 
as in the Helbeck world? Of course she would 
succeed ! 

There was his mother — silly, painted old lady! 
She was naturally the great drawback; and Aunt 
Watton said she was absurdly extravagant, and would 
ruin Tressady if it went on. All the more reason why 
he should be protected. Letty drew herself sharply 
together in her pretty white dressing-gown, with the 
feeling that mothers of that kind must and could be 
kept in their place. 

A house in town, of course — and not in Warwick 
Square, where, apparently, the Tressadys owned a 
house, which had been let, and was now once more 
in Sir George's hands. That might do for Lady 
Tressady — if, indeed, she could afford it when her 
son had married and taken other claims upon him. 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


Letty allowed her thoughts to wander dreamily on, 
envisaging the London life that was to be ; the young 
member, Lord Fontenoy's special friend and prot4g6 
— the young member's wife making her way among 
great people, giving charming little parties at Ferth — 

All very well! But what, please, were the facts 
on his side? She buried her small chin deep in her 
hands as she tried, frowning, to think it out. Cer- 
tainly he was very much drawn, very much taken. 
She had watched him, sometimes, trying to keep 
away from her — and her lips parted in a broad 
smile as she recalled the triumph of his sudden re- 
turns and submissions. She believed he had a curi- 
ous temper — easily depressed, for all his coolness. 
But he had never been depressed in her company. 

Still, nothing was certain. All that had happened 
might melt away into nothingness with the greatest 
ease if — well! if the right steps were not taken. He 
was no novice, any more than she ; he must have had 
scores of " affairs " by now, with that manner of his. 
Such men were always capable of second thoughts, of 
tardy retreats — and especially if there were the small- 
est thought of persecution, of pursuit. 

She believed — she was nearly certain — he would 
have a reaction to-morrow, perhaps because his mother 
had caught them together. Kext morning he would be 
just a little bored by the thought of it — a little bored 
by having to begin again where he had left off. With- 
out great tact and skill the whole edifice might tumble 
together like a house of cards. Had she the courage 
to make diflBiculties — to put a water-ditch across his 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


It was close on midnight when Letty at last raised 
her little chin from the hands that held it and rang 
the bell that communicated with her maid's room, 
but cautiously, so as not to disturb the rest of the 
sleeping house. 

"K Grier is asleep, she must wake up, that's 

Two or three minutes afterwards a dishevelled maid 
startled out of her first slumber appeared, to ask 
whether her mistress was ill. 

"No, Grier, but I wanted to tell you that I have 
changed my mind about staying here till Saturday. 
I am going to-morrow morning by the 9.30 train. 
You can order a fly first thing, and bring me my 
breakfast early." 

The maid, groaning at the thought of the boxes 
that would have to be packed in this inconceivable 
hurry, ventured to protest. 

"Never mind, you can get the housemaid to help 
you," said Miss Sewell, decidedly. "I don't mind 
what you give her. Now go to bed, Grier. I'm 
sorry I woke you up; you look as tired as an owl." 

Then she stood still, looking at herself — hands 
clasped lightly before her — in the long glass. 

"* Letty went by the nine o'clock train,'" she said 
aloud, smiling, and mocking her own white reflection. 
" ' Dear me ! How sudden ! how extraordinary ! Yes, 
but that's like her. H'm — ' Then he must write to 
me, for I shall write him a civil little note asking for 
that book I lent him. Oh! I hope Aunt Watton and 
his mother will bore him to death ! " 

She broke out into a merry laugh; then, sweeping 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


her mass of pretty hair to one side, she began rapidly 
to coil it up for the night, her fingers working as fast 
as her thoughts, which were busy with one ingen- 
ious plan after another for her next meeting with 
Greorge Tressady. 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


During this same space of time, which for Miss 
SewelPs maid ended so disagreeably, George Tres- 
sady was engaged in a curious conversation. 

He had excused himself from smoking, on the 
ground of fatigue, immediately after his parting from 
Letty. But he had only nominally gone to bed. He 
too found it difficult to tear himself from thinking 
and the fire, and had not begun to undress when he 
heard a knock at his door. On his reply. Lord Fon- 
tenoy entered. 

" May I come in, Tressady ? " 

"By all means." 

George, however, stared at his invader in some 
astonishment. His relations with Fontenoy were not 
personally intimate. 

"Well, I'm glad to find you still up, for I had a 
few words on my mind to say to you before I go off 
to-morrow. Can you spare me ten minutes? " 

"Certainly; do sit down. Only — well, I'm afraid 
I'm pretty well done. If it's anything important, I 
can't promise to take it in." 

Lord Fontenoy for a moment made no reply. He 
stood by the fire, looking at the cigarette he still 
held, in silence. George watched him with repressed 


Digitized by VjOOQIC 


"It's been a very hot fight, this," said Fontenoy at 
last, slowly, " and you've won it well. All our band 
have prospered in the matter of elections. But this 
contest of yours has been, I think, the most conspicu- 
ous that any of us have fought. Your speeches have 
made a mark — one can see that from the way in 
which the Press has begun to take them, political 
beginner though you are. In the House you will be, 
I think, our best speaker — of course with time and 
experience. As for me, if you give me a fortnight to 
prepare in, I can make out something. Otherwise I 
am no use. You will take a good debating place from 
the beginning. Well, it is only what I expected." 

The speaker stopped. Greorge, fidgeting in his chair, 
said nothing ; and presently Fontenoy resumed : 

" I trust you will not think what I am going to say 
an intrusion, but — you remember my letters to you 
in India?" 

George nodded. 

"They put the case strongly, I think," Fontenoy 
went on, "but, in my opinion, not strongly enough. 
This wretched Government is in power by the help of 
a tyranny — a tyranny of Labour. They call them- 
selves Conservatives — they are really State Social- 
ists, and the mere catspaws of the revolutionary 
Socialists. You and I are in Parliament to break 
down that tyranny, if we can. This year and next 
will be all-important. If we can hold Maxwell and 
his friends in check for a time — if we can put some 
backbone into the party of freedom — if we can rally 
and call up the forces we have in the country, the 
thing will be done. We shall have established the 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


counterpoise — we shall very likely turn the next 
election, and liberty — or what still remains of it ! — 
will be saved for a generation. But to succeed, the 
effort, the sacrifice, from each one of us, will have 
to be enormous. ^^ 

Fontenoy paused, and looked at his companion. 
Greorge was lying back in an armchair with his eyes 
shut. Why on earth — so he was thinking — should 
Fontenoy have chosen this particular hour and this 
particular night to dibiter these very stale things, that 
he had already served up in innumerable speeches and 
almost every letter that George had received from him? 

"I don't suppose it will be child's-play," he said, 
stifling a yawn — "hope I shall feel keener after a 
night's rest!" He looked up with a smile. 

Fontenoy dropped his cigarette into the fender and 
stood silent a moment, his hands clasped behind his 

"Look here, Tressady ! " he said at last, turning to 
his companion ; " you remember how affairs stood with 
me when you left England? I didn't know much of 
you, but I believe, like many of my juniors, you knew 
a great deal about me? " 

Greorge made the sign of assent expected of him. 

"I knew something about you, certainly," he said, 
smiling; "it was not difl&cult." 

Fontenoy smiled too, though without geniality. 
Geniality had become impossible to a man always 
overworked and on edge. 

"I was a fool," he said quickly — "an open and 
notorious fool. But I enjoyed my life. I don't sup- 
pose anyone ever enjoyed life more. Every day of 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


my former existence gave the lie to the good people 
who tell you that to be happy you must be virtuous. 
I was idle, extravagant, and vicious, and I was one of 
the happiest of men. As to my racing and my horses, 
they were a constant delight to me. I can't think 
now of those mornings on the Heath — the gallops of 
my colts — the change and excitement of it all, with- 
out longing for it to come back again. Yet I have 
never owned a horse, or seen a race, or made a bet, 
for the last three years. I never go into society, 
except for political purposes; and I scarcely ever 
touch wine. In fact, I have thrown overboard every- 
thing that once gave me pleasure and amusement so 
completely that I have, perhaps, some right to press 
upon the party that follows me my conviction that 
unless each and all of us give up private ease and 
comfort as I have done — unless we are contented, as 
the Parnellites were, to be bores in the House and 
nuisances to ourselves — to peg away in season and 
out of season — to give up everything for the cause, 
we may just as well not go into the fight at all — for 
we shall do nothing with it." 

George clasped his hands round his knee, and 
stared stubbornly into the fire. Sermonising was 
all very well, but Fontenoy did too much of it; no- 
body need suppose that he would have done what he 
had done, unless, on the whole, it had given him more 
pleasure to do it than not to do it. 

"Well," he said, looking up at last with a laugh, 
" I wonder what you mean — really. Do you mean, 
for instance, that I oughtn't to get myself married? " 

His offhand manner covered a good deal of irrita- 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


tion. He made a shrewd guess at the idea in Fonte- 
noy's mind, and meant to show that he would not be 
dictated to. 

Fontenoy also laughed, with as little geniality as 
before. Then he applied himself to a deliberate 

" This is what I mean. If you, just elected — at 
the beginning of this critical session — were to give 
your best mind to anything else in the world than the 
fight before us, I should regard you as, for the time, 
at any rate, lost to us — as, so far, betraying us." 

The colour rushed into George's cheeks. 

" Upon my word ! " he said, springing up — " upon 
my word, you are a taskmaster! '^ 

Fontenoy hastened to reply, in a different tone, " I 
only want to keep the machine in order." 

George paced up and down for a few moments with- 
out speaking. Presently he paused. 

" Look here, Fontenoy ! I cannot look at the mat- 
ter as you do, and we may as well understand each 
other. To me, this election of mine is, after all, an 
ordinary affair. I take it, and what is to come after 
it, just as other men do. I have accepted your party 
and your programme, and I mean to stick to them. I 
see that the political situation is difficult and excit- 
ing, and I don't intend to shirk. But I am no more 
going to slay my private life and interests at the altar 
of politics than my father did when he was in Parlia- 
ment. If the revolution is coming, it will come in 
spite of you and me. And, moreover — if you will 
let me say so — I am convinced that your modes of 
procedure are not even profitable to the cause in the 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


long run. No man can work as you do, without rest 
and without distraction. You will break down, and 
then, where will the * cause ' be ?" 

Lord Fontenoy surveyed the speaker with a curious, 
calculating look. It was as though, with as much 
rapidity as his mind was capable of, he balanced a 
number of pros and cons against each other, and 
finally decided to let the matter drop, perhaps not 
without some regret for having raised it. 

"Ah! well," he said, "I have no 4pubt that what 
I have said appears to you mere meddlesomeness. If 
so, you will change your view, and you will forgive 
me. I must trust the compulsion of the situation. 
You will realise it, as I have done, when you get well 
into the fight. There is something in this Labour 
tyranny which rouses all a man's passions, bad and 
good. If it does not rouse yours, I have been much 
mistaken in my estimate of you. As for me, don't 
waste your concern. There are few stronger men than 
I. You forget, too — " 

There was a pause. Of late years, since his trans- 
formation in fact. Lord Fontenoy's stiff reserve about 
himself had been rarely broken through. At this 
moment, however, George, looking up, saw that his 
companion was in some way moved by a kind of som- 
bre and personal emotion. 

"You forget," the speaker resumed, "that I learnt 
nothing either at school or college, and that a man 
who wants to lead a party must, some time or other, 
pay for that precious privilege. When you left Eng- 
land, the only financial statement I could understand 
was a betting-book. I knew no history except what 

VOL. I — s 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


one gets from living among people who have been 
making it, and even that I was too lazy to profit by. 
I couldn't understand the simplest economical argu- 
ment, and I hated trouble of all kinds. Nothing but 
the toil of a galley-slave could have enabled me to do 
what I have done. You would be astonished some- 
times if you could look in upon me at night and see 
what I am doing — what I am obliged to do to keep 
up the most elementary appearances." 

George was touched. The tone of the speaker had 
passed suddenly into one of plain dignity, in spite 
of, perhaps because of, the half -bitter humility that 
mingled with it. 

" I know you make one ashamed," he said sincerely, 
though awkwardly. " Well, don't distrust me ; I'll do 
my best." 

"Good-night," said Lord Fontenoy, and held out 
his hand. He had gained no promises, and George 
had shown and felt annoyance. Yet the friendship 
between the two men had sensibly advanced. 

George shut the door upon him, and came back to 
the fire to ponder this odd quarter of an hour. 

His experience certainly contained no more extraor- 
dinary fact than this conversion of a gambler and a 
spendthrift into the passionate leader of an arduous 
cause. Only one quality linked the man he remem- 
bered with the politician he had now pledged himself 
to follow — the quality of intensity. Dicky Fonte- 
noy in his follies had been neither gay nor lovable, 
but his fierce will, his extravagant and reckless force, 
had given him the command of men softer than him- 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


self. That will and that force were still there, steeled 
and concentrated. But George Tressady was some- 
times restlessly doubtful as to how far he himself was 
prepared to submit to them. 

His personal acquaintance with Fontenoy was of 
comparatively recent date. He himself had been for 
some four years away from England, to which he had 
only returned about three months before the Market 
Malford election. A letter from Fontenoy had been 
the immediate cause of his return ; but before it arrived 
the two men had been in no direct communication. 

The circumstances of Tressady' s long absence con- 
cern his later story, and were on this wise. His 
father. Sir William, the owner of Ferth Place, in 
West Mercia, died in the year that George, his only 
surviving child and the son of his old age, left college. 
The son, finding his father's debts considerable and 
his own distaste for the law, to which he had been des- 
tined, amazingly increased by his newly acquired free- 
dom to do what he liked with himself, turned his mind 
at once towards travelling. Travel he must if he was 
ever to take up public and Parliamentary life, and for 
no other profession — so he announced — did he feel 
the smallest vocation. Moreover, economy was abso- 
lutely necessary. During his absence the London 
house could be let, and Lady Tressady could live 
quietly at Ferth upon an allowance, while his uncles 
looked after the colliery property. 

Lady Tressady made no difficulty, except as to the 
figure first named for the proposed allowance, which 
she declared was absurd. The uncles, elderly business 
men, could not understand why the younger genera- 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


tion should not go into harness at once without in 
dulgences, as they themselves had done; but George 
got his way, and had much reason to show for it. 
He had not been idle at college, though perhaps at no 
time industrious enough. Influenced by natural ambi- 
tion and an able tutor, he had won some distinction, 
and he was now a man full of odds and ends of ideas, 
of nascent interests, curiosities, and opinions, strongly 
influenced moreover already, though he said less about 
it than about other things, by the desire for political 
distinction. While still at college he had been espe- 
cially attracted — owing mainly to the chances of an 
undergraduate friendship — by a group of Eastern 
problems bearing upon England's future in Asia; 
and he was no sooner free to govern himself and his 
moderate income than there flamed up in him the 
Englishman's passion to see, to touch, to handle, 
coupled with the young man's natural desire to go 
where it was dangerous to go, and where other men 
were not going. His friend — the son of an eminent 
geographer, possessed by inheritance of the explorer's 
instincts — was just leaving England for Asia Minor, 
Armenia, and Persia. George made up his mind, 
hastily but firmly, to go with him, and his family 
had to put up with it. 

The year, however, for which the young fellow had 
stipulated went by; two others were added to it; and 
a fourth began to run its course — still George showed 
but faint signs of returning. According to his letters 
home, he had wandered through Persia, India, and 
Ceylon; had found friends and amusement every- 
where; and in the latter colony had even served 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


eight months as private secretary to the Governor, 
who had taken a fancy to him, and had been sud- 
denly bereft by a boating accident of the indispen- 
sable young man who was accustomed to direct the 
hospitalities of Government House before Tressady's 
advent. Thence he went to China and Japan, made 
a trip from Pekin into Mongolia, landed on Formosa, 
fell in with some French naval officers at Saigon, 
spending with them some of the gayest and maddest 
weeks of his life; explored Siam, and finally returned 
by way of Burmah to Calcutta, with the dim intention 
this time of some day, before long, taking ship for 

Meanwhile during the last months of his stay in 
Ceylon he had written some signed articles for an 
important English newspaper, which, together with 
the natural liking felt by the many important per- 
sons he had come to know in the East for an intelli- 
gent and promising young fellow, endowed with brains, 
family, and good manners, served to bring him con- 
siderably into notice. The tone of the articles was 
strongly English and Imperialist. The first of them 
came out immediately before his visit to Saigon, and 
Tressady thanked his lucky stars that the foreign read- 
ing of his French friends was, perhaps, not so exten- 
sive as their practical acquaintance with life. He was, 
however, proud of his first literary achievement, and 
it served to crystallise in him a number of ideas and 
sentiments which had previously represented rather 
the prejudices of a traveller accustomed to find his 
race in the ascendant, and to be well received by its 
official class than any reasoned political theory. 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


As he went on writing, conviction grew with state- 
ment, became a faith, ultimately a passion — till, as 
he turned homewards, he seemed to himself to have 
attained a philosophy sufficient to steer the rest of 
life by. It was the common philosophy of the edu- 
cated and fastidious observer; and it rested on ideas 
of the greatness of England and the infinity of Eng- 
land's mission, on the rights of ability to govern as 
contrasted with the squalid possibilities of democ- 
racy, on the natural kingship of the higher races, and 
on a profound personal admiration for the virtues of 
the administrator and the soldier. 

Now, no man in whom these perceptions take 
strong root early, need expect to love popular gov- 
ernment. Tressady read his English newspapers with 
increasing disgust. On that little England in those 
far seas all depended, and England meant the English 
working-man with his flatteries of either party. He 
blundered and blustered at home, while the Empire, 
its services and its defences, by which alone all this 
pullulating "street folk" existed for a day, were in 
danger of starvation and hindrance abroad, to meet 
the unreasonable fancies of a degenerate race. A 
deep hatred of mob-rule rooted itself in Tressady, 
passing gradually, during his last three months in 
India, into a growing inclination to return and take 
his place in the fight — to have his say. "Govern- 
ment to the competent — not to the many," might 
have been the summary of his three years' experience. 

Nor were private influences wanting. He was a 
West Mercian landowner in a coal-mining district, 
and owned a group of pits on the borders of his 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


estate. His uncles, who had shares in the property, 
reported to him periodically during his absence. With 
every quarter it seemed to Tressady that the reports 
grew worse and the dividends less. His uncles' let- 
ters, indeed, were full of anxieties and complaints. 
After a long period of peace in the coal-trade, it 
looked as though a time of hot war between masters 
and men was approaching. " We have to thrash them 
every fifteen years," wrote one of the uncles, "and 
the time is nearly up." 

The unreason, brutality, and extravagance of the 
men; the tyranny of the Union; the growing inso- 
lence of the Union officials — Tressady's letters from 
home after a time spoke of little else. And Tres- 
sady 's bankbook meanwhile formed a disagreeable 
comment on the correspondence. The pits were 
almost running at a loss; yet neither party had 
made up their minds to the trial of strength. 

Tressady was still lingering in Bombay — though 
supposed to be on his way home — when Lord Fonte- 
noy's letter reached him. 

The writer referred slightly to their previous ac- 
quaintance, and to a remote family connection between 
himself and Tressady; dwelt in fliattering terms on the 
reports which had reached him from many quarters of 
Tressady 's opinions and abilities; described the gene- 
sis and aims of the new Parliamentary party, of which 
the writer was the founder and head; and finally urged 
him to come home at once, and to stand for Parliament 
as a candidate for the Market Malf ord division, where 
the influence of Fontenoy's family was considerable. 
Since the general election, which had taken place in 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


June, and had returned a moderate Conservative Gov- 
ernment to power, the member for Market Malford 
had become incurably ill. The seat might be vacant 
at any moment. Fontenoy asked for a telegram, and 
urged the next steamer. 

Tressady had already — partly from private talk, 
partly from the newspapers — learnt the main out- 
lines of Lord Fontenoy 's later story. The first politi- 
cal speech of Fontenoy's he had ever read made a 
half -farcical impression on him — let Dicky stick to 
his two-year-olds! The second he read twice over, 
and alike in it, in certain party manifestoes from 
the same hand printed in the newspapers, and in 
the letter he had now received, there spoke some- 
thing for which it seemed to him he had been wait- 
ing. The style was rough and halting, but Tressady 
felt in it the note and power of a leader. 

He took an hour's walk through the streets of 
Bombay to think it over, then sent his telegram, and 
booked his passage on his way home to luncheon. 

Such, in brief outline, had been the origin of the 
two men's acquaintance. Since George's return they 
had been constantly together. Fontenoy had thrown 
his whole colossal power of work into the struggle 
for the Market Malford seat, and George owed him 

After he was left to himself on this particular 
night, Tressady was for long restless and wakeful. 
In spite of resistance, Fontenoy's talk and Fontenoy's 
personality had nevertheless restored for the moment 
an earlier balance of mind. The interests of ambition 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


and the intellect returned in force. Letty Sewell had, 
no doubt, made life very agreeable to him during the 
past three weeks; but, after all — was it worth 

Her little figure danced before the inward eye as 
his fire sank into darkness ; fragments of her chatter 
ran through his mind. He began to be rather 
ashamed of himself. Fontenoy was right. It was 
not the moment. No doubt he must maiTy some day ; 
he had come home, indeed, with the vague intention 
of marrying; but the world was wide, and women 
many. That he had very little romance in his tem- 
perament was probably due to his mother. His 
childish experiences of her character, and of her rela- 
tions to his father, had left him no room, alas ! for 
the natural childish opinion that all grown-ups, and 
especially all mothers, are saints. In India he had 
amused himself a good deal ; but his adventures had, 
on the whole, confirmed his boyish bias. If he had 
been forced to put his inmost opinions about women 
into words, the result would have been crude — per- 
haps brutal ; which did not prevent him from holding 
a very strong and vivid conviction of the pleasure to 
be got from their society. 

Accordingly, he woke up next morning precisely in 
the mood that Letty, for her own reasons, had fore- 
seen. It worried him to think that for two or three 
days more he and Letty Sewell must still be thrown 
together in close relations. He and his mother were 
waiting on at Malford for a day or two till some 
workmen should be out of his own house, which lay 
twenty miles away, at the farther edge of the Market 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


Malford division. Meanwhile a couple of shooting- 
parties had been arranged, mainly for his entertain- 
ment. Still, was there no urgent business that 
required him in town ? 

He sauntered in to breakfast a little before ten. 
Only Evelyn Watton and her mother were visible, 
most of the men having already gone off to a distant 

"Now sit down and entertain us, Sir George," said 
Mrs. Watton, holding out her hand to him with an 
odd expression. "We're as dull as ditch water — the 
men have all gone — Florrie's in bed ^ith a chill — 
and Letty departed by the 9.30 train.'* ' 

George's start, as he took his coffee from her, did 
not escape her. 

" Miss Sewell gone ? But why this suddenness ? " 
he inquired. " I thought Miss Letty was to be here 
to the* end of the week." 

Mrs. Watton raised her shoulders. "She sent a 
note in to me at half-past eight to say her mother 
wasn't well, and she was wanted at home. She just 
rushed in to say good-bye to me, chattered a great 
deal, kissed everybody a great deal — and I know no 
more. I hear she had breakfast and a fly, which is 
all I troubled myself about. I never interfere with 
the modern young woman." 

Then she raised her eyeglass, and looked hard and 
curiously at Tressady. His face told her nothing, 
however, and as she was the least sympathetic of 
women, she soon forgot her own curiosity. 

Evelyn Watton, a vision of fresh girlhood in her 
morning frock, glanced shyly at him once or twice as 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


she gave him scones and mustard. She was passing 
through a moment of poetry and happy dreams. All 
human beings walked glorified in her eyes, especially 
if they were young. Letty was not wholly to her 
taste, and had never been a particular friend. But 
she thought ill of no one, and her little heart must 
needs flutter tenderly in the presence of anything that 
suggested love and marriage. It had delighted her 
to watch George and Letty together. Now, why had 
Letty rushed away like this ? She thought with con- 
cern, thrilling all the time, that Sir George looked 
grave and depressed. 

George, however, was not depressed — or thought he 
was not. He walked into the library after breakfast, 
whistling, and quoting to himself : 

And there be they 
Who kissed his wings which brought him yesterday, 
And thank his wings to-day that he is flown. 

He prided himself on his memory of some modern 
poets, and the lines pleased him particularly. 

He had no sooner done quoting, however, than his 
mother peered into the room, claiming the business 
talk that had been promised. From that talk George 
emerged irritable and silent. His mother's extrava- 
gance was really preposterous! — not to be borne. 
For four years now he had been free from the con- 
stant daily friction of money troubles which had spoilt 
his youth and robbed him of all power of respecting 
his mother. And he had hugged his freedom. But 
all the time it seemed he had been hugging illusion, 
and the troubles had been merely piling up for his re- 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


turn ! Her present claims — and lie knew very well 
that they were not the whole — would exhaust all his 
available balance at his bankers'. 

Lady Tressady, for her part, thought, with indignant 
despair, that he had not behaved at all as an only son 
should — especially an only son just returned to a 
widowed mother after four years' absence. How could 
anyone suppose that in four years there would be no 
debts — on such a pittance of an income ? Some money, 
indeed, he had promised her ; but not nearly enough, 
and not immediately. He "must look into things at 
home." Lady Tressady was enraged with herself 
and him that she had not succeeded better in making 
him understand how pressing, how urgent, matters 

She must, indeed, bring it home to him that there 
might be a scandal at any moment. That odious 
livery-stable man, two or three dressmakers — in these 
directions every phase and shift of the debtor's long 
finesse had been exhausted long ago. Even she was 
at her wits' end. 

As for other matters — But from these her thoughts 
turned hurriedly away. Luck would change, of course, 
sometime ; it must change ! No need to say anything 
about that just yet, especially while Greorge's temper 
was in such a queer state. 

It was very odd — most annoying ! As a baby even 
he had never been caressing or sweet like other peo- 
ple's babies. And now, really ! — why her son should 
have such unattractive ways ! 

But, manoeuvre as she would, George would not be 
drawn into further discussion. She could only show 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


him offended airs, and rack her brains morning and 
night as to how best to help herself. 

Meanwhile George had never been so little pleased 
with living as during these few days. He was over- 
whelmed with congratulations; and, to judge from 
the newspapers, " all England," as Lady Tressady said, 
" was talking of him." It seemed to him ridiculous 
that a man should derive so little entertainment from 
such a fact. Nevertheless, his dulness remained, and 
refused to be got rid of. He discussed with himself, 
of course, for a new set of reasons, the possibility of 
evading the shooting-parties, and departing. But he 
was deeply pledged to stay ; and he was under con- 
siderable obligations to the Wattons. So he stayed; 
but he shot so as to increase his own dissatisfaction 
with the universe, and to make the other men in the 
house wonder what might be the general value of an 
Indian sporting reputation when it came to dealing 
with the British pheasant. 

Then he turned to business. He tried to read some 
Parliamentary reports bearing on a coming measure, 
and full of notes by Fontenoy, which Fontenoy had 
left with him. But it only ended in his putting them 
hastily aside, lest in the mood of obscure contradiction 
that possessed him he should destroy his opinions be- 
fore he had taken his seat. 

On the day before the last " shoot," among the let- 
ters his servant brought him in the early morning, was 
one that he tore open in a hurry, tossing the rest aside. 

It was from Miss Sewell, requesting, prettily, in as 
few words as possible, that he would return her a book 
she had lent him. 

Digitized by Vj'OOQIC 


"My mother," she wrote, "has almost recovered 
from her sudden attack of chill. I trust the shooting- 
parties have amused you, and that you have read all 
Lord Fontenoy's Blue Books." 

George wrote a reply before he went down to break- 
fast — a piece of ordinary small-talk, that seemed to 
him the most wretched stuff conceivable. But he 
pulled two pens to pieces before he achieved it. 

Then he went out for a long walk alone, pondering 
what was the matter with him. Had that little witch 
dropped the old familiar poison into his veins after 
all? Certainly some women made life vivacity and 
pleasure, while others — his mother or Mrs. Watton, 
for instance — made it fatigue or tedium. 

Ever since his boyhood Tressady had been conscious 
of intermittent assaults of melancholy, fits of some 
inner disgust, which hung the world in black, crippled 
his will, made him hate himself and despise his neigh- 
bours. It was, possibly, some half-conscious dread 
lest this morbid speck in his nature should gain upon 
the rest that made him so hungry for travel and change 
of scene after he left college. It explained many 
surprises, many apparent ficklenesses in his life. 
During the three weeks that he had spent in the 
same house with Letty Sewell he had never once 
been conscious of this lurking element of his life. 
And now, after four days, he found himself positively 
pining for her voice, the rustle of her delicate dress, 
her defiant, provocative ways that kept a man on the 
alert — still more, her smiling silences that seemed to 
challenge all his powers, the touch of her small cool 
hand that crushed so easily in his. 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


What had she left the house for in that wilful way ? 
He did not believe her excuses. Yet he was mystified. 
Did she realise that things were becoming serious, and 
did she not mean them to be serious ? If so, who or 
what hindered ? 

As for Fontenoy — 

Tressady quickened his step impatiently as he re- 
called that harassed and toiling figure. Politics or 
no politics, he would live his life! Besides, it was 
obviously to his profit to marry. How could he ever 
make a common household with his mother? He 
meant to do his duty by her, but she annoyed and 
abashed him twenty times a day. He would be far 
happier married, far better able to do his work. He 
was not passionately in love — not at all. But — for 
it was no good fencing with himself any longer — he 
desired Letty Sewell's companionship more than he 
had desired anything for a long time. He wanted 
the right to carry off the little musical box, with all 
its tunes, and set it playing in his own house, to keep 
him gay. Why not ? He could house it prettily, and 
reward it well. 

As for the rest, he decided, without thinking about 
it, that Letty Sewell was well born and bred. She 
had, of course, all the little refinements a fastidious 
taste might desire in a woman. She would never dis- 
credit a man in society. On the contrary, she would 
be a great strength to him there. And she must be 
sweet-tempered, or that pretty child Evelyn Watton 
would not be so fond of her. 

That pretty child, meanwhile, was absorbed in the 
excitement of her own small rdle. Tressady, who had 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


only made duty-conversation with her before, had 
found out somehow that she was sympathetic — that 
she would talk to him charmingly about Letty. After 
a very little pretending, he let himself go ; and Evelyn 
dreamt at night of his confidences, her heart, without 
knowing it, leaping forward to the time when a man 
would look at her so, for her own sake — not an- 
other's. She forgot that she had ever criticised Letty, 
thought her vain or selfish. Nay, she made a heroine 
of her forthwith ; she remembered all sorts of delight- 
ful things to say of her, simply that she might keep 
the young member talking in a corner, that she might 
still enjoy the delicious pride of feeling that she knew 
— she was helping it on. 

After the big " shoot," for instance, when all the 
other gentlemen were stiff and sleepy, George spent 
the whole evening in chattering to Evelyn, or, rather, 
in making her chatter. Lady Tressady loitered near 
them once or twice. She heard the names " Letty," 
"Miss Sewell," passing and repassing — one talker 
catching up the other. Over any topic that included 
Miss Sewell they lingered ; when anything was begun 
that did not concern her, it dropped at once, like a 
ball ill thrown. The mother went away smiling rather 

She watched her son, indeed, cat-like all these days, 
trying to discover what had happened — what his real 
mind was. She did not wish for a daughter-in-law at 
all, and she had even a secret fear of Letty Sewell in 
that capacity. But somehow George must be managed, 
her own needs must be met. She felt that she might 
be undoing the future ; but the present drove her on. 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


On the following morning, from one of Mrs. Wat- 
ton's numerous letters there dropped out the fact that 
Letty Sewell was expected immediately at a country 
house in North Mercia whereof a certain Mrs. Corfield 
was mistress — a house only distant some twenty miles 
from the Tressadys' estate of Ferth Place. 

"My sister-in-law has recovered with remarkable 
rapidity," said Mrs. Watton, raising a sarcastic eye. 
" Do you know anything of the Corfields, Sir George ?'' 

" Nothing at all," said George. " One hears of them 
sometimes from neighbours. They are said to be very 
lively folk. Miss Sewell will have a gay time." 

"Corfield?" said Lady Tressady, her head on one 
side and her cup balanced in two jewelled hands. 
"What! Aspasia Corfield! Why, my dear George 
— one of my oldest friends ! " 

George laughed — the short, grating laugh his mother 
so often evoked. 

" Beg pardon, mother ; I can only answer for my- 
self. To the best of my belief I never saw her, either 
at Ferth or anywhere else." 

"Why, Aspasia Corfield and I," said Lady Tressady 
with languid reflectiveness — " Aspasia Corfield and I 
copied each other's dresses, and bought our hats at the 
same place, when we were eighteen. I haven't seen 
her for an eternity. But Aspasia used to be a dear 
girl — and so fond of me ! " 

She put down her cup with a sigh, intended as a 
reproach to George. George only buried himself the 
deeper in his morning's letters. 

Mrs. Watton, behind her newspaper, glanced grimly 
from the mother to the son. 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


"I wonder if that woman has a single real old 
friend in the world. How is George Tressady going 
to put up with her?" 

The Wattons themselves had been on friendly 
terms with Tressady's father for many years. Since 
Sir William's death and George's absence, however, 
Mrs. Watton had not troubled herself much about 
Lady Tressady, in which she believed she was only 
following suit with the rest of West Mercia. But 
now that George had reappeared as a promising poli- 
tician, his mother — till he married — had to be to 
some extent accepted along with him. Mrs. Watton 
accordingly had thought it her duty to invite her for 
the election, not without an active sense of martyrdom. 
" She always has bored me to tears since I first saw 
Sir William trailing her about," she would remark 
to Letty. " Where did he pick her up ? The marvel 
is that she has kept respectable. She has never looked 
it. I always feel inclined to ask her at breakfast why 
she dresses for dinner twelve hours too soon ! " 

Very soon after the little conversation about the 
Corfields Lady Tressady withdrew to her room, sat 
thoughtful for a while, with her writing-block on her 
knee, then wrote a letter. She was perfectly aware 
of the fact that since George had come back to her 
she was likely to be welcome once more in many 
houses that for years had shown no particular desire 
to receive her. She took the situation very easily. 
It was seldom her way to be bitter. She was only 
determined to amuse herself, to enjoy her life in her 
own way. If people disapproved of her, she thought 
them fools, but it did not prevent her from trying to 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


make it up with them next day, if she saw an opening 
and it seemed worth while. 

" There ! " she said to herself as she sealed the let- 
ter, and looked at it with admiration, " I really have a 
knack for doing those things. I should think Aspasia 
Corfield would ask him by return — me, too, if she has 
any decency, though she has dropped me for fifteen 
years. She has a tribe of daughters. — Why I should 
play Miss Sewell's game like this I don't know! 
Well, one must try something." 

That same afternoon mother and son took their 
departure for Ferth Place. 

George, who had only spent a few weeks at Ferth 
since his return from India, should have found plenty 
to do both indoors and out. The house struck him as 
singularly dingy and out of order. Changes were 
imperatively demanded in the garden and in the 
estate. His business as a colliery-owner was in a 
tangled and critical condition. And meanwhile Fon- 
tenoy plied him incessantly with a political corre- 
spondence which of itself made large demands upon 
intelligence and energy. 

Nevertheless he shuffled out of everything, unless 
it were the correspondence with Fontenoy. As to the 
notion that all the languor could be due merely to an 
unsatisfied craving for Letty Sewell's society, when it 
presented itself he still fought with it. The Indian 
climate might have somehow affected him. An 
English winter is soon forgotten, and has to be re- 
learnt like a distasteful lesson. 

About a week after their arrival at Ferth George 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


was sitting at his solitary breakfast when his mother 
came floating into the room^ preceded by a rattle of 
bangles, a flutter of streamers, and the barking of 
little dogs. 

She held various newly opened letters, and, run- 
ning up to him, she laid her hands on his shoulders. 

"Now" — thought George to himself with annoy- 
ance, " she is going to be arch ! " 

" Oh ! you silly boy ! " she said, holding him, with 
her head on one side. " Who's been cross and nasty 
to his poor old mammy ? Who wants cheering up a 
bit before he settles down to his horrid work ? Who 
would take his mammy to a nice party at a nice 
house, if he were prettily asked — eh ? who would ? " 

She pinched his cheek before he could escape. 

"Well, mother, of course you will do what you 
like," said George, walking off to supply himself 
with ham. "I shall not leave home again, just 

Lady Tressady smiled. 

"Well, anyhow, you can read Aspasia Corfield's 
letter," she said, holding it out to him. " You know, 
really, that house isn't bad. They took over the Dry- 
burghs' chef, and Aspasia knows how to pick her 

"Aspasia!" The tone of patronising intimacy! 
George blushed, if his mother did not. 

Yet he took the letter. He read it, then put it 
down, and walked to the window to look at a crowd 
of birds that had been collecting round a plate of food 
he had just put out upon the snow. 

" Well, will you go ? " said his mother. 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


"If you particularly wish it," he said, after a 
pause, in an embarrassed voice. 

Lady Tressady's dimples were in full play as she 
settled herself into her seat and began to gather a 
supply of provisions. But as he returned to his 
place, and she glanced at him, she saw that he was 
not in a mood to be bantered, and understood that he 
was not going to let her force his confidence, however 
shrewdly she might guess at his affairs. So she con- 
trolled herself, and began to chatter about the Cor- 
fields and their party. He responded, and by the end 
of breakfast they were on much better terms than 
they had been for some weeks. 

That morning also he wrote a cheque for her imme- 
diate necessities, which made her — for the time — a 
happy woman ; and she overwhelmed him with grate- 
ful tears and embraces, which he did his best to bear. 

Early in December he and she became the Corfields' 
guests. They found a large party collected, and Letty 
Sewell happily established as the spoilt child of the 
house. At the first touch of her hand, the first glance 
of her eyes, George's cloud dispersed. 

"Why did you run away?" George asked her on 
the first possible occasion. 

Letty laughed, fenced with the question for four 
days, during which George was never dull for a single 
instant, and then capitulated. She allowed him to 
propose to her, and was graciously pleased to accept 

The following week Tressady went down with 
Letty to her home at Helbeck. He found an invalid 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


father, a remarkably foolish, inconsequent mother, 
and a younger sister, Elsie, on whom, as it seemed to 
him, the burdens of the house mainly rested. 

The father, who was suffering from a slow but in- 
curable disease, had the remains of much natural 
ability and acuteness. He was well content with 
Tressady as a son-in-law; though in the few inter- 
views that Tressady was able to have with him on the 
question of settlements the young man took pains to 
state his money affairs as carefully and modestly as 
possible. Letty was not often in her father's room, 
and Mr. Sewell treated her, when she did come, rather 
like an agreeable guest than a daughter. But he was 
evidently extremely proud of her — as also was the 
mother — and he would talk much to George, when 
his health allowed it, of her good looks and her social 

With the younger sister Tressady did not find it 
easy to make friends. 

She was plain, sickly, and rather silent. She seemed 
to have scientific tastes and to be a great reader. And, 
so far as he could judge, the two sisters were not 

" Don't hate me for taking her away ! '' he said, as 
he was bidding good-bye to Elsie, and glancing over 
her shoulder at Letty on the stairs. 

The girl's quiet eyes were crossed by a momentary 
look of amusement. Then she controlled herself, and 
said gently : 

"We didn't expect to keep her ! Good-bye." 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


"Oh, Tully, look at my cloak ! You've let it fall 1 
Hold my fan, please, and give me the operarglasses." 

The speaker was Miss Sewell. She and an elderly 
lady were sitting side by side in the stalls, about half- 
way down St. James's Hall. The occasion was a pop- 
ular concert, and, as Joachim was to play, every seat 
in the hall was rapidly filling up. 

Letty rose as she asked for the opera-glasses, and 
scanned the crowds streaming in through the side- 

"No — no signs of him! He must have been kept 
at the House, after all," she said, with annoyance. 
" Eeally, Tully, I do think you might have got a pro- 
gramme all this time ! Why do you leave everything 
to me ? " 

" My dear ! " said her companion, protesting, " you 
didn't tell me to." 

"Well, I don't see why I should tell you everything. 
Of course I want a programme. Is that he ? No ! 
What a nuisance 1 " 

" Sir George must have been detained," murmured 
her companion, timidly. 

"What a very original thing to say, wasn't it, 
Tully ? " remarked Miss Sewell, with sarcasm, as she 
sat down again. 


Digitized by VjOOQIC 


The lady addressed was silent, instinctively waiting 
till Letty's nerves should have quieted down. She 
was a Miss Tulloch, a former governess of the Sewells, 
and now often employed by Letty, when she was in 
town, as a convenient chaperon. Letty was accus- 
tomed to stay with an aunt in Cavendish Square, an 
old lady who did not go out in the evenings. A chap- 
eron therefore was indispensable, and Maria Tulloch 
could always be had. She existed somewhere in West 
Kensington, on an income of seventy pounds a year. 
Letty took her freely to the opera and the theatre, to 
concerts and galleries, and occasionally gave her a 
dress she did not want. Miss Tulloch clung to the 
connection as her only chance of relief from the board- 
ing-house routine she detested, and was always abjectly 
ready to do as she was told. She saw nothing she was 
not meant to see, and she could be shaken ofP at a 
moment's notice. For the rest, she came of a stock 
of gentlefolk ; and her invariable black dress, her bits 
of carefully treasured lace, the weak refinement of her 
face, and her timid manner did no discredit to the 
brilliant creature beside her. 

When the first number of the programme was over, 
Letty got up once more, opera-glass in hand, to search 
among the late-comers for her missing lover. She 
nodded to many acquaintances, but George Tressady 
was not to be seen ; and she sat down finally in no 
mood either to listen or to enjoy, though the magician 
of the evening was already at work. 

"There's something very special, isn't there, you 
want to see Sir George about to-night?" Tully in- 
quired humbly when the next pause occurred. 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


" Of course there is ! '' said Letty, crossly. " You do 
ask such foolish questions, Tully. If I don't see him 
to-night, he may let that house in Brook Street slip. 
There are several people after it — the agents told me." 

" And he thinks it too expensive ? " 

" Only because of her. If she makes him pay her 
that preposterous allowance, of course it will be too 
expensive. But I don't mean him to pay it." 

" Lady Tressady is terribly extravagant," murmured 
Miss TuUoch. 

"Well, so long as she isn't extravagant with his 
money — our money — I don't care a rap," said Letty ; 
"only she sha'n't spend all her own and all ours too, 
which is what she has been doing. When George was 
away he let her live at Forth, and spend almost all 
the income, except five hundred a year that he kept 
for himself. And then she got so shamefully into debt 
that he doesn't know when he shall ever clear her. 
He gave her money at Christmas, and again, I am surOf 
just lately. Well! all I know is that it must be 
stopped, 1 don't know that I shall be able to do 
much till I'm married, but I mean to make him 
take this house." 

" Is Lady Tressady nice to you ? She is in town, 
isn't she?" 

" Oh yes ! she's in town. Kice ? " said Letty, with 
a little laugh. "She can't bear me, of course; but 
we're quite civil." 

" I thought she tried to bring it on ? " said the con- 
fidante, anxious, above all things, to be sympathetic. 

" Well, she brought him to the Corfields, and let me 
know she had. I don't know why she did it. I sup- 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


pose she wanted to get something out of him. Ah ! 
there he is ! " 

, And Letty stood up, smiling and beckoning, while 
Tressady's tall thin figure made its way along the 
central passage. 

"Horrid House! What made you so late?" she 
said, as he sat down between her and Miss Tulloch. 

George Tressady looked at her with delight. The 
shrewish contractions in the face, which had been 
very evident to Tully a few minutes before, had all 
disappeared, and the sharp slight lines of it seemed 
to George the height of delicacy. At sight of him 
colour and eyes had brightened. Yet at the same 
time there was not a trace of the raw girl about her. 
She knew very well that he had no taste for ing^nuesy 
and she was neither nervous nor sentimental in his 

"Do you suppose I should have stayed a second 
longer than I was obliged ? " he asked her, smiling, 
pressing her little hand under pretence of taking her 

The first notes of a new Brahms quartette mounted, 
thin and sweet, into the air. The musical portion of 
the audience, having come for this particular morsel, 
prepared themselves eagerly for the tasting and try- 
ing of it. George and Letty tried to say a few things 
more to each other before yielding to the general 
silence, but an old gentleman in front turned upon 
them a face of such disdain and fury they must needs 
laugh and desist. 

Not that George was unwilling. He was tired; 
and silence with Letty beside him was not only re- 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


pose, but pleasure. Moreover, he derived a certain 
honest pleasure of a mixed sort from music. It sug- 
gested literary or pictorial ideas to him which stirred 
him, and gave him a sense of enjoyment. Now, as 
the playing flowed on, it called up delightful images 
in his brain: of woody places, of whirling forms, of 
quiet rivers, of thin trees Corot-like against the sky — 
scenes of pleading, of frolic, reproachful pain,' dis- 
solving joy. With it all mingled his own story, his 
own feeling; his pride of possession in this white 
creature touching him ; his sense of youth, of opening 
life, of a crowded stage whereon his " cue " had just 
been given, his "call" sounded. He listened with 
eagerness, welcoming each fancy as it floated past, 
conscious of a grain of self-abandonment even — a 
rare mood with him. He was not absorbed in love 
by any means ; the music spoke to him of a hundred 
other kindling or enchanting things. Nevertheless it 
made it doubly pleasant to be there, with Letty beside 
him. He was quite satisfied with himself and her ; quite 
certain that he had done everything for the best. All 
this the music in some way emphasised — made clear. 

When it was over, and the applause was subsiding, 
Letty said in his ear: "Have you settled about the 
house ? '^ 

He smiled down upon her, not hearing what she 
said, but admiring her dress, its little complication 
and subtleties, the violets that perfumed every move- 
ment, the slim fingers holding the fan. Her mere 
ways of personal adornment were to him like pleas- 
ant talk. They surprised and amused him — stood 
between him and ennui. 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


She repeated her question. 

A frown crossed his brow, and the face changed 

"Ah! — it is so difficult to see one's way," he said, 
with a little sigh of annoyance. 

Letty played with her fan, and was silent. 

"Do you so much prefer it to the others?" he 
asked her. 

Letty looked up with astonishment. 

"Why, it is a house!" she said, lifting her eye- 
brows ; " and the others — " 

" Hovels ? Well, you are about right. The small 
London house is an abomination. Perhaps I can 
make them take less premium." 

Letty shook her head. 

" It is not at all a dear house," she said decidedly. 

He still frowned, with the look of one recalled to 
an annoyance he had shaken off. 

" Well, darling, if you wish it so much, that settles 
it. Promise to be still nice to me when we go through 
the Bankruptcy Court! " 

"We will let lodgings, and I will do the waiting," 
said Letty, just laying her hand lightly against his for 
an instant. "Just think! That house would draw 
like anything. Of course, we will only take the 
eldest sons of peers. By the way, do you see Lord 

They were in the middle of the "interval," and 
almost everyone about them, including Miss Tulloch, 
was standing up, talking or examining their neigh- 
bours. * 

George craned his neck round Miss Tulloch, and 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


saw Fontenoy sitting beside a lady, on the other side 
of the middle gangway. 

"Who is the lady?" Letty inquired. "I saw her 
with him the other night at the Foreign Office." 

George smiled. 

^^That — if you want to know — is Fontenoy's 

"Oh, but tell me at once!" said Letty, imperi- 
ously. "But he hasn't got a story, or a heart. He's 
only stuffed with blue-book." 

" So I thought till a few weeks ago. But I know a 
good deal more now about Master Fontenoy than I 

"But who is she?" 

" She is a Mrs. Allison. Isn't that white hair beau- 
tiful? And her face — half saint, I always think — 
you might take her for a mother-abbess — and half 
princess. Did you ever see such diamonds?" 

Greorge pulled his moustaches, and grinned as he 
looked across at Fontenoy. 

" Tell me quick ! " said Letty, tapping him on the 
arm — "Is she a widow? — and is he going to marry 
her? Why didn't you tell me before? — why didn't 
you tell me at Malford?" 

"Because I didn't know," said George, laughing. 
"Oh ! it's a strange story — too long to tell now. She 
is a widow, but he is not going to marry her, appar- 
ently. She has a grown-up son, who hasn't yet found 
himself a wife, and thinks it isn't fair to him. If Fon- 
tenoy wants to introduce her, don't refuse. She is the 
mistress of Castle Luton, and has delightful parties. 
Yes ! — if I'd known at Malford what I know now ! " 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


And he laughed again, remembering Fontenoy's 
nocturnal incursion upon him, and its apparent object. 
Who would have imagined that the preacher of that 
occasion had ever given one serious thought to woman 
and woman's arts — least of all that he was the crea- 
tion and slave of a woman ! 

Letty's curiosity was piqued, and she would have 
plied George with questions, but that she suddenly 
perceived that Fontenoy had risen, and was coming 
across to them. 

"Gracious!" she said; "here he comes. I can't 
think why; he doesn't like me." 

Fontenoy, however, when he had made his way to 
them, greeted Miss Sewell with as much apparent 
cordiality as he showed to anyone else. He had 
received George's news of the marriage with all 
decorum, and had since sent a handsome wedding- 
present to the bride-elect. Letty, however, was 
never at ease with him, which, indeed, was the case 
with most women. 

He stood beside the fiances for a minute or two, 
exchanging a few commonplaces with Letty on the 
performers and the audience; then he turned to 
George with a change of look. 

" No need for us to go back to-night, I think? " 

"What, to the House? Dear, no! Grooby and 
Havershon may be trusted to drone the evening 
out, I should hope, with no trouble to anybody but 
themselves. The Government are just keeping a 
house, that's all. Have you been grinding at your 
speech all day?" 

Fontenoy shrugged his shoulders. 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


" I sha'n't get anything out that I want to say. Are 
you coming to the House on Friday, Miss Sewell?" 

"Friday?" said Letty, looking puzzled. 

George laughed. 

"I told you. You must plead trousseau if you 
want to save yourself!" 

Amusement shone in his blue eyes as they passed 
from Letty to Fontenoy. He had long ago discovered 
that Letty was incapable of any serious interest in his 
public life. It did not disturb him at all. But it 
tickled his sense of humour that Letty would have 
to talk politics all the same, and to talk them with 
people like Fontenoy. 

"Oh! you mean your Resolution!" cried Letty. 
"Isn't it a Resolution? Yes, of course I'm coming. 
It's very absurd, for I don't know anything about it. 
But Greorge says I must, and till I promise to obey, 
you see, I don't mind being obedient!" 

Archness, however, was thrown away on Fontenoy. 
He stood beside her, awkward and irresponsive. Not 
being allowed to be womanish, she could only try 
once more to be political. 

"It's to be a great attack on Mr. Dowson, isn't 
it?" she asked him. "You and George are mad 
about some things he has been doing? He's Home 
Secretary, isn't he? Yes, of course! And he's been 
driving trade away, and tyrannising over the manu- 
facturers? I wish you'd explain it to me! I ask 
George, and he tells me not to talk shop." 

"Oh, for goodness' sake," groaned George, "let it 
alone! I came to meet you and hear Joachim. 
However, I may as well warn you, Letty, that I 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


sha'n't have time to be married once Fontenoy's anti- 
Maxwell campaign begins; and' it will go on till the 
Day of Judgment." 

"Why anti-Maxwell," said Letty, puzzled. "I 
thought it was Mr. Dowson you are going to 

Greorge, a little vexed that she should require it, 
began to explain that as Maxwell was " only a miser- 
able peer," he could have nothing to do with the House 
of Commons, and that Dowson was the official mouth- 
piece of the Maxwell group and policy in the Lower 
House. "The hands were the hands of Esau," etc. 
Letty meanwhile, conscious that she was not showing 
to advantage, flushed, began to play nervously with 
her fan, and wished that George would leave off. 

Fontenoy did nothing to assist George's political 
lesson. He stood impassive, till suddenly he tried to 
look across his immediate neighbours, and then said, 
turning to Letty : 

"The Maxwells, I see, are here to-night." He 
nodded towards a group on the left, some two or three 
benches behind them. "Are you an admirer of Lady 
MaxwelPs, Miss Sewell? — youVe seen her, of course?" 

" Oh yes, often ! " said Letty, annoyed by the ques- 
tion, standing, however, eagerly on tiptoe. "I know 
her, too, a little ; but she never remembers me. She 
was at the Foreign Office on Saturday, with such a 
hideous dress on — it spoilt her completely." 

"Hideous!" said Fontenoy, with a puzzled look. 
"Some artist — I forget who — came and raved to me 
about it; said it was like some Florentine picture — I 
forget what — don't think I ever heard of it." 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


Letty looked contemptuous. Her expression said 
that in this matter, at any rate, she knew what she 
was talking about. Nevertheless her eyes followed 
the dark head Fontenoy had pointed out to her. 

Lady Maxwell was at the moment the centre of a 
large group of people, mostly men, all of whom 
seemed to be eager to get a word with her, and she 
was talking with great animation, appealing from 
time to time to a tall, broad-shouldered gentleman, 
with greyish hair, who stood, smiling and silent, at 
the edge of the group. Letty noticed that many 
glasses from the balcony were directed to this par- 
ticular knot of persons j that everybody near them, or 
rather every woman, was watching Lady Maxwell, or 
trying to get a better view of her. The girl felt a 
secret pang of envy and dislike. 

The figure of a well-known accompanist appeared 
suddenly at the head of the staircase leading from the 
artists' room. The interval was over, and the audi- 
ence began to subside into attention. 

Fontenoy bowed and took his leave. 

"You see, he didn^t introduce me,'' said Letty, not 
without chagrin, as she settled down. "And how 
plain he is! I think him uglier every time I see 

George made a vague sound of assent, but did not 
really agree with her in the least. Fontenoy 's air of 
overwork was more decided than ever; his eyes had 
almost sunk out of sight; the complexion of his broad 
strong face had reddened and coarsened from lack of 
exercise and sleep ; his brown hair was thinning and 
grizzling fast. Nevertheless a man saw much to 
VOL. I — a 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


admire in the ungainly head and long-limbed frame, 
and did not think any the better of a woman's intelli- 
gence for failing to perceive it. 

After the concert, as George and Letty stood to- 
gether in the crowded vestibule, he said to her, with 
a smile : 

" So I take that house? " 

"If you want to do anything disagreeable," she 
retorted, quickly, "don't ask me. Do it, and then 
wait till I am good-tempered again!" 

"What a tempting prospect! Do you know that 
when you put on that particular hood that I would 
take Buckingham Palace to please you? Do you 
know also that my mother will think us very extrava- 

" Ah, we can't all be economical ! " said Letty. 

He saw the little toss of the head and sharpening of 
the lips. They only amused him. Though he had 
never, so far, discussed his mother and her affairs 
with Letty in any detail, he understood perfectly well 
that her feeling about this particular house in some 
way concerned his mother, and that Letty and Lady 
Tressady were rapidly coming to dislike each other. 
Well, why should Letty pretend? He liked her the 
better for not pretending. 

There was a movement in the crowd about them, 
and Letty, looking up, suddenly found herself close 
to a tall lady, whose dark eyes were bent upon 

"How do you do. Miss Sewell?" 

Letty, a little fluttered, gave her hand and replied. 
Lady Maxwell glanced across her at the tall young 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


man, with the fair, irregular face. George bowed 
involuntarily, and she slightly responded. Then she 
was swept on by her own party. 

"Hare you sent for your carriage?^' George heard 
someone say to her. 

"No; I am going home in a hansom. I've tired 
out both the horses to-day. Aldous is going down to 
the club to see if he can hear anything about Devizes." 

"Oh! the election?'' 

She nodded, then caught sight of her husband at the 
door beckoning, and hurried on. 

"What a head!" said George, looking after her 
with admiration. 

"Yes," said Letty, unwillingly. "It's the hair 
that's so splendid, the long black waves of it. How 
ridiculous to talk of tiring out her horses — that's just 
like her! As though she mightn't have fifty horses 
if she liked! Oh, George, there's our man! Quick, 

They made their way out. In the press George 
put his arm half round Letty, shielding her. The 
touch of her light form, the nearness of her delicate 
face, enchanted him. When their carriage had rolled 
away, and he turned homewards along Piccadilly, he 
walked absently for a time, conscious only of pulsing 

It was a mild February night. After a long frost, 
and a grudging thaw, westerly winds were setting in, 
and Spring could be foreseen. It had been pouring 
with rain during the concert, but was now fair, the 
rushing clouds leaving behind them, as they passed, 
great torn spaces of blue, where the stars shone. 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


Gusts of warm moist air swept through the street. 
As George's moment of intoxication gradually sub- 
sided, he felt the physical charm of the soft buffeting 
wind. How good seemed all living! — youth and 
capacity — this roaring multitudinous London — the 
future with its chances! This common pleasant 
chance of marriage amongst them — he was glad he 
had put out his hand to it. His wife that was to be 
was no saint and no philosopher. He thanked the 
fates ! He at least asked for neither — on the hearth. 
"Praise, blame, love, kisses'' — for all of those, life 
with Letty would give scope ; yet for none of them in 
excess. There would be plenty of room left for other 
things, other passions — the passion of political power, 
for instance, the art of dealing with and commanding 
other men. He, the novice, the beginner, to talk of 
" commanding ! " Yet already he felt his foot upon 
the ladder. Fontenoy consulted him, and confided in 
him more and more. In spite of his engagement, he 
was informing himself rapidly on a hundred questions, 
and the mental wrestle of every day was exhilarating. 
Their small group in the House, compact, tireless, 
audacious, was growing in importance and in the 
attention it extorted from the public. Never had 
the whole tribe of factory inspectors shown a more 
hawk-like, a more inquisitorial, a more intolerable 
vigilance than during the past twelve months. All 
the persons concerned with matches and white-lead, 
with certain chemical or metal-working industries, 
with "season" dressmaking or tailoring, were up in 
arms, rallying to Fontenoy' s support with loud wrath 
and lamentations, claiming to speak not only for 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


themselves, but for their " hands/' in the angry pro- 
test that things had gone and were going a great 
deal too far, that trade was simply being harassed 
out of the country. A Whiggish group of manu- 
facturers on the Liberal side were all with Fonte- 
noy; while the Socialists, on whom the Government 
should have been able in such a matter to count to 
the death, had a special grievance against the Cabinet 
at the moment, and were sulking in their tents. The 
attack and defence would probably take two nights; 
for the Government, admitting the gravity of the 
assault, had agreed, in case the debate should not 
be concluded on Friday, to give up Monday to it. 
Altogether the affair would make a noise. George 
would probably get in his maiden speech on the 
second night, and was, in truth, devoting a great 
deal of his mind to the prospect; though to Letty 
he had persistently laughed at it and belittled it, 
refusing altogether to let her come and hear him. 

Then, after Easter would come Maxwell's Bill, and 
the fat in the fire! Poor little Letty! — she would 
get but few of the bridal observances due to her when 
that struggle began. But first would come Easter and 
their wedding; that one short fortnight, when he 
would carry her off — soft, willing prey! — to the 
country, draw a "wind-warm space" about himself 
and her, and minister to all her whims. 

He turned down St. James's Street, passed Marl- 
borough House, and entered the Mall, on the way to 
Warwick Square, where he was living with his 

Suddenly he became aware of ^ crowd, immediately 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


in front of him, in the direction of Buckingham Pal- 
ace. A hansom and horse were standing in the road- 
way; the driver, crimson and hatless, was bandying 
words with one of the policemen, who had his note- 
book open, and from the middle of the crowd came a 
sound of wailing. 

He walked up to the edge of the circle. 

'^Anybody hurt?" he said to the policeman, as the 
man shut his notebook. 

"Little girl run over, sir." 

"Can I be of any assistance? Is there an ambu- 
lance coming?" 

"No, sir. There was a lady in the hansom. She's 
just now bandaging the child's leg, and says she'll 
take it to the hospital." 

George mounted on one of the seats under the trees 
that stood handy, and looked over the heads of the 
crowd to the space in the centre which the other 
policeman was keeping clear. A little girl lay on 
the ground, or rather on a heap of coats; another 
girl, apparently about sixteen, stood near her, crying 
bitterly, and a lady — 

"Goodness!" said Tressady; and, jumping down, 
he touched the policeman on the shoulder. 

"Can you get me through? I think I could be 
some help. That lady" — he spoke a word in the 
policeman's ear. 

The man touched his hat. 

" Stand back, please ! " he said, addressing the 
crowd, "and let this gentleman through." 

The crowd divided unwillingly. But at the same 
moment it parted from the inside, and a little proces- 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


sion came through, both policemen joining their ener- 
gies to make a free passage for it. In front walked 
the policeman carrying the little girl, a child appar- 
ently of about twelve years old. Her right foot lay 
stiffly across his arm, held straight and still in an 
impromptu splint of umbrellas and handkerchiefs. 
Immediately behind came the lady whom George had 
caught sight of, holding the other girFs hand in hers. 
She was bareheaded and in evening dress. Her opera- 
cloak, with its heavy sable collar, showed beneath it 
a dress of some light-coloured satin, which had 
already suffered deplorably from the puddles of the 
road, and, as she neared the lamp beneath which the 
cab had stopped, the diamonds on her wrists sparkled 
in the light. During her passage through the crowd, 
George perceived that one or two people recog- 
nised her, and that a murmur ran from mouth to 

Of anything of the sort she herself was totally 
unconscious. George saw at once that she, not the 
policeman, was in command. She gave him direc- 
tions, as they approached the cab, in a quick, impera- 
tive voice which left no room for hesitation. 

"The driver is drunk,'' he heard her say; "who 
will drive ?'^ 

"One of us will drive, ma'am." 

"What — the other man? Ask him to take the 
reins at once, please, before I get in. The horse is 
fresh, and might start. That's right. Now, when I 
say the word, give me the child." 

She settled herself in the cab. George saw the 
policeman somewhat embarrassed, for a moment, with 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


his burden. He came forward to his help, and be- 
tween them they handed in the child, placing her 
carefully on her protector's knee. 

Then, standing at the open door of the cab, George 
raised his hat. " Can I be of any further assistance to 
you, Lady Maxwell ? I saw you just now at the concert." 

She turned in some astonishment as she heard her 
name, and looked at the speaker. Then, very quickly, 
she seemed to understand. 

"I don't know," she said, pondering. "Yes! you 
could help me. I am going to take the child to 
hospital. But there is this other girl. Could you 
take her home — she is very much upset? No! — 
first, could you bring her after me to St. George's? 
She wants to see where we put her sister." 

"I will call another cab, and be there as soon as 

"Thank you. Just let me speak to the sister a 
moment, please." 

He put the weeping girl forward, and Lady Max- 
well bent across the burden on her knee to say a few 
words to her — soft, quick words in another voice. 
The girl understood, her face cleared a little, and she 
let Tressady take charge of her. 

One of the policemen mounted the box of the han- 
som, amid the "chaff" of the crowd, and the cab 
started. A few hats were raised in George's neigh- 
bourhood, and there was something of a cheer. 

"I tell yer," said a voice, "I knowed her fust sight 
— seed her picture lots o' times in the papers, and in 
the winders too. My word, ain't she good-lookin! 
And did yer see all them diamonds?" 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


" Come along ! '' said George, impatiently, hurrying 
his charge into the four-wheeler the other policeman 
had just stopped for them. 

In a few more seconds he, the girl, and the police- 
man were pursuing Lady Maxwell's hansom at the 
best speed of an indifferent horse. George tried to 
say a few consoling things to his neighbour ; and the 
girl, reassured by his kind manner, found her tongue, 
and began to chatter in a tearful voice about the how 
and when of the accident: about the elder sister in 
a lodging in Crawford Street, Tottenham Court Road, 
whom she and the little one had been visiting; the 
grandmother in Westminster with whom they lived; 
poor Lizzie's place in a laundry, which now she 
must lose; how the lady had begged handkerchiefs 
and umbrellas from the crowd to tie up Lizzie's leg 
with — and so on through a number of other details 
incoherent or plaintive. 

George heard her absently. His mind all the time 
was absorbed in the dramatic or ironic aspects of 
what he had just seen. For dramatic they were — 
though perhaps a little cheap. Could he, could any- 
one, have made acquaintance with this particular 
woman in more characteristic fashion? He laughed 
to think how he would tell the story to Fontenoy. 
The beautiful creature in her diamonds, kneeling on 
her satin dress in the mud, to bind up a little laun- 
drymaid's leg — it was so extravagantly in keeping 
with Marcella Maxwell that it amused one like an 
overdone coincidence in a clumsy play. 

What made her so beautiful? The face had marked 
defects ; but in colour, expression, subtlety of line — 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


incomparable ! On the other hand, the manner — no ! 
— he shrugged his shoulders. The remembrance of 
its mannish — or should it be, rather, boyish? — energy 
and assurance somehow set him on edge. 

In the end, they were not much behind the hansom ; 
for the hospital porter was only just in the act of tak- 
ing the injured child from Lady Maxwell as Tressady 
dismounted and went forward again to see what he 
could do. 

But, somewhat to his chagrin, he was not wanted. 
Lady Maxwell and the porter did everything. As 
they went into the hospital, George caught a few of 
the things she was saying to the porter as she sup- 
ported the child's leg. She spoke in a rapid, profes- 
sional way, and the man answered, as the policeman 
had done, with a deference and understanding which 
were clearly not due only to her " grand air '' and her 
evening dress. George was puzzled. 

He and the elder sister followed her into the wait- 
ing-room. The house-surgeon and a nurse were sum- 
moned, and the injured leg was put into a splint there 
and then. The patient moaned and cried most of the 
time, and Tressady had hard work to keep the sister 
quiet. Then nurse and doctor lifted the child. 

"They are going to put her to bed," said Lady 
Maxwell, turning to George. " I am going up with 
them. Would you kindly wait? The sister " — she 
dropped her business tone, and, smiling, touched the 
elder girl on the arm — " can come up when the little 
one is undressed." 

The little procession swept away, and George was 
left with his charge. As soon as the small sister was 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


out of sight, the elder one began to chatter again out 
of sheer excitement, crying at intervals. George did 
not heed her much. He walked up and down, with 
his hands in his pockets, conscious of a curious irri- 
tability. He did not think a woman should take a 
strange man's service quite so coolly. 

At the end of another quarter of an hour a nurse 
appeared to summon the sister. Tressady was told 
he might come too if he would, and his charge threw 
him a quick, timid look, as though asking him not to 
desert her in this unknown and formidable place. So 
they followed the nurse up white stone stairs, and 
through half -lit corridors, where all was silent, save 
that once a sound of delirious shrieking and talking 
reached them through a closed door, and made the 
sister's consumptive little face turn whiter still. 

At last the nurse, putting her finger on her lip, 
turned a handle, and George was conscious of a sud- 
den feeling of pleasure. 

They were standing on the threshold of a children's 
ward. On either hand was a range of beds, bluish- 
white between the yellow picture-covered walls and 
the middle-way of spotless floor. Far away, at the 
other end, a great fire glowed. On a bare table in 
the centre, laden with bottles and various surgical 
necessaries, stood a shaded lamp, and beside it the 
chair where the night-nurse had been sitting. In the 
beds were sleeping children of various ages, some 
burrowing, face downward, animal-like, into their pil- 
lows; others lying on their backs, painfully straight 
and still. The air was warm, yet light, and there 
was the inevitable smell of antiseptics. Something 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


in the fire-lit space and comfort of the great room, its 
ordered lines and colours, the gentleness of the shaded 
light as contrasted with the dim figures in the beds, 
seemed to make a poem of it — a poem of human ten- 

Two or three beds away to the right. Lady Maxwell 
was standing with the night-nurse of the ward. The 
little girl had been undressed, and was lying quiet, 
with a drawn, piteous face that turned eagerly as her 
sister came in. The whole scene was new and touch- 
ing to Tressady. Yet, after the first impression, his 
attention was perforce held by Lady Maxwell, and he 
saw the rest only in relation to her. She had slipped 
off her heavy cloak, in order, perhaps, that she might 
help in the undressing of the child. Beneath, she 
wore a little shawl or cape of some delicate lace over 
her low dress. The dress itself was of a pale shade 
of green; the mire and mud with which it was 
bedabbled no longer showed in the lialf light; and 
the satin folds glistened dimly as she moved. The 
poetic dignity of the head, so finely wreathed with its. 
black hair, of the full throat and falling shoulders, 
received a sort of special emphasis from the wide 
spaces, the pale colours and level lines of the ward. 
Tressady was conscious again of the dramatic signifi- 
cant note as he watched her, yet without any soften- 
ing of his nascent feeling of antagonism. 

She turned and beckoned to the sister as they 
entered : 

" Come and see how comfortable she is ! And then 
you must give this lady your name and address." 

The girl timidly approached. Whilst she was 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


occupied with her sister and with the nurse, Laxiy 
Maxwell suddenly looked round, and saw Tressady 
standing by the table a yard or two from her. 

A momentary expression of astonishment crossed 
her face. He saw that, in her absorption with the 
case and the two sisters, she had clean forgotten all 
about him. But in a flash she remembered, and 

" So you are really going to take her home? That 
is very kind of you. It will make all the difference 
to the grandmother that somebody should go and 
explain. You see, they leave her in the splint for 
the night, and to-morrow they will put the leg in 
plaster. Probably they won't keep her in hospital 
more than about three weeks, for they are very 

•'* You seem to know all about it! " 

"I was a nurse myself once, for a time," she said, 
but with a certain stiffness which seemed to mark the 
transition from the professional to the great lady. 

"Ah! I should have remembered that. I had 
heard it from Edward Watton." 

She looked up quickly. He felt that for the first 
time she took notice of him as an individual. 

"You know Mr. Watton? I think you are Sir 
Creorge Tressady, are you not? You got in for Mar- 
ket Malford in November? I recollect. I didn't 
like your speeches." 

She laughed. So did he. 

"Yes, I got in just in time for a fighting session." 
■ Her laugh disappeared. 

" An odious fight ! " she said gravely. 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


"I am not so sure. That depends on whether you 
like fighting, and how certain you are of your cause ! '* 

She hesitated a moment ; then she said : 

" How can Lord Fontenoy be certain of his cause ! '* 

The slight note of scorn roused him. 

"Isn't that what all parties say of their opponents ? " 

She glanced at him again, curiously. He was 
evidently quite young — younger than herself, she 
guessed. But his careless ease and experience of 
bearing, contrasted with his thin boy's figure, at- 
tracted her. Her lip softened reluctantly into a 

" Perhaps, " she said. " Only sometimes, you know, 
it must be true! Well, evidently we can't discuss it 
here at one o'clock in the morning — and there is the 
nurse making signs to me. It is really very good of 
you. If you are in our neighbourhood on Sunday, 
will you report?" 

"Certainly — with the greatest pleasure. I will 
come and give you a full account of my mission." 

She held out a slim hand. The sister, red-eyed 
with crying, was handed over to him, and he and she 
were soon in a cab, speeding towards the Westminster 
mews whither she directed him. 

Well, was Maxwell to be so greatly envied? Tres- 
sady was not sure. Such a woman, he thought, for 
all her beauty, would not have greatly stirred his 
own pulses. 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


The week which had opened thus for Tressady 
promised to be one of lively interest for such persons 
as were either concerned in or took notice of the 
House of Commons and its doings. Fontenoy's on- 
slaught upon the administration of the Home Office, 
and, through the Home Secretary, on the Maxwell 
group and influence, had been long expected, and was 
known to have been ably prepared. Its possible re- 
sults were already keenly discussed. Even if it were 
a damaging attack, it was not supposed that it could 
have any immediate effect on the state of parties or the 
strength of the Government. But after Easter Max- 
well's factory Bill — a special Factory Act for East 
London, touching the grown man for the first time, 
and absolutely prohibiting home-work in certain speci- 
fied industries — was to be brought forward, and could 
not fail to provide Maxwell's adversaries with many 
chances of red and glorious battle. It was disputa- 
ble from end to end; it had already broken up one 
Government; it was strongly pressed and fiercely op- 
posed; and on the fate of each clause in Committee 
might hang the life or death of the Ministry — not so 
much because of the intrinsic importance of the mat- 
ter, as because Maxwell was indispensable to the 
Cabinet, and it was known or believed that neither 


Digitized by VjOOQIC 


Maxwell nor his close friend and henchman, Dowson, 
the Home Secretary, would accept defeat on any of 
the really vital points of the Bill. 

The general situation was a curious one. Some two 
years before this time a strong and long-lived Tory 
Government had come to an end. Since then all had 
been confusion in English politics. A weak Liberal 
Government, undermined by Socialist rebellion, had 
lasted but a short time, to be followed by an equally 
precarious Tory Ministry, in which Lord Maxwell — 
after an absence from politics of some four years or 
so — returned to his party, only to break it up. For 
he succeeded in imposing upon them a measure in 
which his own deepest convictions and feelings were 
concerned, and which had behind it the support of all 
the more important trade unions. Upon that measure 
the Ministry fell ; but during their short administra- 
tion Maxwell had made so great an impression upon 
his own side that when they returned, as they did 
return, with an enlarged majority, the Maxwell Bill 
retained one of the foremost places in their pro- 
gramme, and might be said, indeed, at the present 
moment to hold the centre of the political field. 

That field, in the eyes of any middle-aged observer, 
was in strange disarray. The old Liberal party had 
been almost swept away ; only a few waifs and strays 
remained, the exponents of a programme that nobody 
wanted, and of cries that stirred nobody's blood. A 
large Independent Labour and Socialist party filled 
the empty benches of the Liberals — a revolutionary, 
enthusiastic crew, of whom the country was a little 
frightened, and who were, if the truth were known, a 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


little frightened at themselves. They had a coherent 
programme, and represented a formidable "domina- 
tion " in English life. And that English life itself, in 
all that concerned the advance and transformation of 
labour, was in a singularly tossed and troubled state. 
After a long period of stagnation and comparative 
industrial peace, storms at home, answering to storms 
on the Continent, had been let loose, and forces both 
of reaction and of revolution were making themselves 
felt in new forms and under the command of new 

At the head of the party of reaction stood Fonte- 
noy. Some four years before the present session the 
circumstances of a great strike in the Midlands — 
together, no doubt, with some other influence — had 
first drawn him into public life, had cut him off from 
racing and all his natural pleasures. The strike 
affected his father's vast domain in North Mercia; 
it was marked by an unusual violence on the part of 
the men and their leaders; and Fontenoy, driven, 
sorely against his will, to take a part by the fact that 
his father, the hard and competent administrator of 
an enormous fortune, happened at the moment to be 
struck down by illness, found himself before many 
weeks were over taking it with passion, and emerged 
from the struggle a changed man. Property must be 
upheld; low-born disorder and greed must be put 
down. He sold his race-horses, and proceeded forth- 
with to throw into the formation of a new party all 
the doggedness, the astuteness, and the audacity he 
had been accustomed to lavish upon the intrigues and 
the triumphs of the Turf. 

VOL. I — H 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


And now in this new Parliament his immense 
labour was beginning to tell. The men who followed 
him had grown in number and improved in quality. 
They abhorred equally a temporising conservatism 
and a plundering democracy. They stood frankly 
for birth and wealth, the Church and the expert. 
They were the apostles of resistance and negation; 
they were sworn to oppose any further meddling with 
trade and the personal liberty of master and work- 
man, and to undo, if they could, some of the meddling 
that had been already carried through. A certain 
academic quality prevailed among them, which made 
them peculiarly sensitive to the absurdities of men 
who had not been to Oxford or Cambridge; while 
some, like Tressady, had been travellers, and wore 
an Imperialist heart upon their sleeve. The group 
possessed an unusual share of debating and oratorical 
ability, and they had never attracted so much atten- 
tion as now that they were about to make the Maxwell 
Bill their prey. 

Meanwhile, for the initiated, the situation possessed 
one or two points of special interest. Lady Maxwell, 
indeed, was by this time scarcely less of a political 
force than her husband. Was her position an illus- 
tration of some new power in women's hands, or was 
it merely an example of something as well known 
to the Pharaohs as to the nineteenth century — the 
ability of any woman with a certain physique to get 
her way? That this particular woman's way hap- 
pened to be also her husband's way made the case less 
interesting for some observers. On the other hand. 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


her obvious wifely devotion attracted simple souls to 
whom the meddling of women in politics would have 
been nothing but repellent had it not been recom- 
mended to them by the facts that Marcella Maxwell 
was held to be good as well as beautiful; that she 
loved her husband; and was the excellent mother of 
a fine son. 

Of her devotion, in the case of this particular Bill, 
there was neither concealment nor doubt. She was 
known to have given her husband every assistance in 
the final drafting of the measure: she had seen for 
herself the working of every trade that it affected; 
she had innumerable friends among wage-earners of 
all sorts, to whom she gave half her social life ; and 
both among them and in the drawing-rooms of the 
rich she fought her husband's cause unceasingly, by 
the help of beauty, wits, and something else — a 
broad impulsiveness and charm — which might be 
vilified or scorned, but could hardly be matched, by 
the enemy. 

Meanwhile Lord Maxwell was a comparatively 
ineffective speaker, and passed in social life for a 
reserved and difficult personality. His friends put 
no one else beside him ; and his colleagues in the 
Cabinet were well aware that he represented the key- 
stone in their arch. But the man in the street, 
whether of the aristocratic or plebeian sort, knew 
comparatively little about him. All of which, com- 
bined with the special knowledge of an inner circle, 
helped still more to concentrate public attention on 
the convictions, the temperament, and the beauty of 
his wife. 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


Amid a situation charged with these personal or 
dramatic elements the Friday so keenly awaited by 
Fontenoy and his party arrived. 

Immediately after question-time FOntenoy made his 
speech. In reply, the Home Secretary, suave, statis- 
tical, and conciliatory, poured a stream of facts and 
reports upon the House. The more repulsive they 
were, the softer and more mincing grew his voice 
in dealing with them. Fontenoy had excited his 
audience, Dowson succeeded in making it shudder. 
Nevertheless, the effect of the evening lay with Fon- 

George stayed to hear the official defence to its end. 
Then he hurried upstairs in search of Letty, who, 
with Miss Tulloch, was in the Speaker's private gal- 
lery. As he went he thought of Fontenoy's speech, 
its halting opening, the savage force of its peroration. 
His pulses tingled: "Magnificent!" he said to him- 
self ; " magnificent I We have found a man ! " 

Letty was eagerly waiting for him, and they walked 
down the corridor together. " Well ? " he said, thrust- 
ing his hands deep into his pockets, and looking down 
upon her with a smile. " Well ? " 

Letty saw that she was expected to praise, and she 
did her best, his smile still bent upon her. He was 
perfectly aware all the time of the fatuity of what she 
was saying. She had caught up since her engage- 
ment a certain number of political phrases, and it 
amused him to note the cheap and tinkling use she 
made of them. Nevertheless she was chatting, 
smiling, gesticulating, for his pleasure. She was 
posing for him, using her grey eyes in these expres- 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


sive ways, all for him. He thought her the most 
entertaining plaything; though it did occur to him 
sometimes that when they were married he would 
give her instruction. 

"Ah, well, you liked it — that's good!" he said at 
last, interrupting her. " We've begun well, any way. 
It'll be rather hard, though, to have to speak after 
that on Monday ! " 

" As if you need be afraid ! You're not, you know 
— it's only mock modesty. Do you know that Lady 
Maxwell was sitting two from me ? " 

« No ! Well, how did she like Fontenoy ? " 

"She never moved after he got up. She pressed 
her face against that horrid grating, and stared at him 
all the time. I thought she was very flushed — but 
that may have been the heat — and in a very bad 
temper," added Letty, maliciously. " I talked to her 
a little about your adventure." 

" Did she remember my existence ? " 

" Oh dear, yes ! She said she expected you on 
Sunday. She never asked me to come." Letty 
looked arch. "But then one doesn't expect her to 
have pretty manners. People say she is shy. But, 
of course, that is only your friends' way of saying 
that you're rude." 

" She wasn't rude to you ? " said George, outwardly 
eager, inwardly sceptical. "Shall I not go on Sun- 

" But of course you must go. We shall have to 
know them. She's not a woman's woman — that's 
all. Now, are we going to get some dinner, for Tally 
and I are famishing ? " 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


" Come along, then, and I'll collect the party." 

George had asked a few of his acquaintance in the 
House to meet his betrothed, together with an old 
General Tressady and his wife who were his distant 
cousins. The party were to assemble in the room of 
an under-secretary much given to such hospitable 
functions; and thither accordingly George led the 

The room, when they reached it, was already fairly 
full of people, and alive with talk. 

" Another party ! " said George, looking round him. 
" Benson is great at this sort of thing." 

" Do you see Lady Maxwell ? " said Letty, in his ear. 

George looked to his right, and perceived the lady in 
question. She also recognised him at once, and bowed, 
but without rising. She was the centre of a group of 
people, who were gathered round her and the small 
table on which she was leaning, and they were so 
deeply absorbed in the conversation that had been 
going on that they hardly noticed the entrance of 
Tressady and his companion. 

" Leven has a party, you see," said the under-secre- 
tary. "Blaythwaite was to have taken them in — 
couldn't at the last moment; so they had to come in 
here. This is your side of the room! But none of 
your guests have come yet. Dinner at the House 
in the winter is a poor sort of business. Miss Sewell. 
We want the Terrace for these occasions." 

He led the young girl to a sofa at the further end 
of the room, and made himself agreeable, to him the 
easiest process in the world. He was a fashionable 
and charming person, in the most irreproachable of 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


frock-coats, and Letty was soon at her ease with him, 
and mistress of all her usual arts and graces. 

" You know Lady Maxwell ? " he said to her, with 
a slight motion of the head towards the distant group. 

Letty replied; and while she and her companion 
chattered, George, who was standing behind them, 
watched the other party. 

They were apparently in the thick of an argument, 
and Lady Maxwell, whose hands were lightly clasped 
on the table in front of her, was leaning forward with 
the look of one who had just shot her bolt, and was 
waiting to see how it would strike. 

It struck apparently in the direction of her vis-drviSy 
Sir Frank Leven, for he bent over to her, making a 
quick reply in a half-petulant boy's voice. He had 
been three years in the House, but had still the air 
of an Eton " swell '* in his last half. 

Lady Maxwell listened to what he had to say, a sort 
of silent passion in her face all the time — a noble 
passion nobly restrained. 

When he stopped, George caught her reply. 

" He has neither seen nor felt — every sentence 
showed it — that is all one can say. How can one 
take his judgment ? " 

George's mouth twitched. He slipped, smiling, into 
a place beside Letty. " Did you hear that ? " he in- 

" Fontenoy's speech, of course,'' said the under-sec- 
retary, looking round. " She's pitching into Leven, I 
suppose. He's as cranky and unsound as he can be. 
Shouldn't wonder if you got him before long." 

He nodded good-temperedly to Tressady, then got 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


up to speak to a man on the edge of the further 

"How amusing!" said George, his satirical eyes 
still watching Lady Maxwell. " How much that set 
has ^seen and felt' of sweaters, and white-lead 
workers, and that ilk ! Don't they look like it ? " 

"Who are they?" 

Letty was now using all her eyes to find out, and 
especially for the purpose of carrying away a mental 
photograph of Lady Maxwell's black hat and dress. 

"Oh! the Maxwells' particular friends in the House 
— most of them as well provided with family and 
goods as they make 'em: a philanthropic, idealist 
lot, that yearns for the people, and will be the first 
to be kicked downstairs when the people gets its 
own. However, they aren't all quite happy in their 
minds. Frank Leven there, as Benson says, is decid- 
edly shaky. He is the member for the Maxwells' 
division — Maxwell, of course, put him in. He has a 
house there, I believe, and he married Lady Maxwell's 
great friend, Miss Macdonald — an ambitious little 
party, they say, who simply insisted on his going into 
Parliament. Oh, then, Bennett is there — do you see ? 
— the little dark man with a frock-coat and specter 
cles ? He's Lady Maxwell's link with the Independ- 
ents — oldest workman member — been in the House 
a long time, so that by now he isn't quite as one-eyed 
and one-eared as the rest of them. I suppose she 
hopes to make use of him at critical moments — she 
takes care to have tools of all sorts. Gracious — 
listen ! " 

There was, indeed, a very storm of discussion 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


sweeping through the rival party. Lady Maxwell's 
penetrating but not loud voice seemed to pervade it, 
and her eyes and face, as she glanced from one 
speaker to another, drew alternately the shafts and 
the sympathy of the rest. 

Tressady made a face. 

" I say, Letty, promise me one thing ! '* His hand 
stole towards hers. Tully discreetly looked the 
other way. "Promise me not to be a political 
woman, there's a dear!" 

Letty hastily withdrew her fingers, having no mind 
at all for caresses in public. 

"But I must be a political woman — I shall have to 
be! I know heaps of girls and married women who 
get up everything in the papers — all the stupidest 
things — not because they know anything about it, or 
because they care a rap, but because some of their 
men friends happen to be members; and when they 
come to see you, you must know what to talk to them 

"Must you?" said George. "How odd! As 
though one went to tea with a woman for the sake 
of talking about the very same things you have been 
doing all day, and are probably sick to death of 

"Never mind," said Letty, with her little air of 
sharp wisdom. " I know they do it, and I shall have 
to do it too. I shall pick it up." 

"Will you? Of course you will! Only, when 
I've got a big Bill on, let me do a little of it for 
myself — give me some of the credit! " 

Letty laughed maliciously. 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


" I don't know why youVe taken such a dislike to 
her," she said, but in rather a contented tone, as her 
eye once more travelled across to Lady Maxwell. 
"Does she trample on her'husband, after all?" 

Tressady gave an impatient shrug. 

" Trample on him ? Goodness, no ! That's all part 
of the play, too — wifely affection and the rest of it. 
Why can't she keep out of sight a little? We don't 
want the women meddling." 

"Thank you, my domestic tyrant!" said Letty, 
making him a little bow. 

"How much tyranny will you want before you 
accept those sentiments?" he asked her, smiling ten- 
derly into her eyes. Both had a moment's pleasant 
thrill; then George sprang up. 

" Ah, here they are at last I — the General, and all 
the lot. Now, I hope, we shall get some dinner." 

Tressady had, of course, to introduce his elderly 
cousins and his three or four political friends to his 
future wife; and, amid the small flutter of the per- 
formance, the break-up and disappearance of the rival 
party passed unnoticed. When Tressady' s guests en- 
tered the dining-room which looks on the Terrace, and 
made their way to the top table reserved for them, the 
Leven dinner, near the door, was already half through. 

George's little banquet passed merrily enough. The 
grey-haired General and his wife turned out to be 
agreeable and well-bred people, quite able to repay 
George's hospitality by the dropping of little compli- 
ments on the subject of Letty into his half-yielded 
ear. For his way of taking such things was always a 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


trifle cynical. He believed that people say habitually 
twice what they mean, whether in praise or blame; 
and he did not feel that his own view of Letty was 
much affected by what other people thought of her. 

So, at least, he would have said. In reality, he got 
a good deal of pleasure out of his fiancee's success. 
Letty, indeed, was enjoying herself greatly. This 
political world, as she had expected, satisfied her 
instinct for social importance better than any world 
she had yet known. She was determined to get on in 
it; nor, apparently, was there likely to be any diffi- 
culty in the matter. George's friends thought her a 
pretty, lively creature, and showed the usual inclina- 
tion of the male sex to linger in her society. She 
mostly wanted to be informed as to the House and its 
ways. It was all so new to her ! — she said. But her 
ignorance was not insipid; her questions had flavour. 
There was much talk and laughter; Letty felt her- 
self the mistress of the table, and her social ambitions 
swelled within her. 

Suddenly George's attention was recalled to the 
Maxwell table by the break-up of the group around 
it. He saw Lady Maxwell rise and look round her 
as though in search of someone. Her eyes fell upon 
him, and he involuntarily rose at the same instant to 
meet the step she made towards him. 

" I must say another word of thanks to you " — she 
held out her hand. " That girl and her grandmother 
were most grateful to you." 

"Ah, well! — I must come and make my report. 
Sunday, I think you said ? " 

She assented. Then her expression altered : 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


" When do you speak ? " 

The question fell out abruptly, and took George by 

" I ? On Monday, I believe, if I get my turn. But 
I fear the British Empire will go on if I don't ! '' 

She threw a glance of scrutiny at his thin, whim- 
sical face, with its fair moustache and sunburnt skin. 

" I hear you are a good speaker," she said simply. 
" And you are entirely with Lord Fontenoy ? " 

He bowed lightly, his hands on his sides. 

" You'll agree our case was well put ? The worst 
of it— " 

Then he stopped. He saw that Lady Maxwell had 
ceased to listen to him. She turned her head towards 
the door, and, without even saying good-bye to him, 
she hurried away from him towards the further end 
of the room. 

"Maxwell, I see!" said Tressady to himself, with 
a shrug, as he returned to his seat. "Not flattering 
— but rather pretty, all the same ! " 

He was thinking of the quick change that had 
remade the face while he was talking to her — a 
change as lovely as it was unconscious. 

Lord Maxwell, indeed, had just entered the dining- 
room in search of his wife, and he and she now left 
it together, while the rest of the Leven party gradu- 
ally dispersed. Letty also announced that she must 
go home. 

" Let me just go back into the House and see what 
is going on," said George. " Ten to one I sha'n't be 
wanted, and I could see you home." 

He hurried off, only to return in a minute -with the 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


news that the debate was given up to a succession of 
superfluous people, and he was free, at any rate for an 
hour. Letty, Miss Tulloch, and he accordingly made 
their way to Palace Yard. A bright moon shone in 
their faces as they emerged into the open air, which 
was still mild and spring-like, as it had been all the 

"I say — send Miss Tulloch home in a cab!" 
George pleaded in Letty's ear, " and walk with me a 
bit. Come and look at the moon over the river. I 
will bring you back to the bridge and put you in a 

Letty looked astonished and demure. " Aunt Char- 
lotte would be shocked," she said. 

George grew impatient, and Letty, pleased with his 
impatience, at last yielded. Tully, the most com- 
plaisant of chaperons, was put into a hansom and 

As the pair reached the entrance of Palace Yard 
they were overtaken by a brougham, which drew up 
an instant in the gateway itself, till it should find an 
opening in the traffic outside. 

" Look ! " said George, pressing Letty's arm. 

She looked round hurriedly, and, as the lamps of 
the gateway shone into the carriage, she caught a 
vivid glimpse of the people inside it. Their faces 
were turned towards each other as though in intimate 
conversation — that was all. The lady's hands were 
crossed on her knee ; the man held a despatch-box. 
In a minute they were gone; but both Letty and 
George were left with the same impression — the 
sense of something exquisite surprised. It had already 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


visited George that evening, only a few minutes 
earlier, in connection with the same woman's face. 

Letty laughed, rather consciously. 

George looked down upon her as he guided her 
through the gate. 

"Some people seem to find it pleasant to be to- 
gether ! " he said, with a vibration in his voice. " But 
why did we look ? " he added, discontentedly. 

" How could we help it, you silly boy ? " 

They walked towards the bridge and down the steps, 
happy in each other, and freshened by the night 
breeze. Over the river the moon hung full and white, 
and beneath it everything — the silver tracks on the 
water, the blaze of light at Charing Cross Station, the 
lamps on Westminster Bridge and in the passing 
steamers, a train of barges, even the darkness of the 
Surrey shore — had a gentle and poetic air. The 
vast city had, as it were, veiled her greatness and 
her tragedy; she offered herself kindly and protect- 
ingly to these two — to their happiness and their 

George made his companion wait beside the parapet 
an:d look, while he himself drew in the air with a sort 
of hunger. 

" To think of the hours we spend in this climate," 
he said, " caged up in abominable places like the House 
of Commons ! " 

The traveller's distaste for the monotony of town 
and indoor life spoke in his vehemence. Letty raised 
her eyebrows. 

" I am very glad of my furs, thank you ! You seem 
to forget that it is February." 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


"Never mind! — since Monday it has had the feel 
of April. Did you see my mother to-day ? " 

" Yes^ She caught me just after luncheon, and we 
talked for an hour/' 

" Poor darling ! I ought to have been there to pro- 
tect you. But she vowed she would have her say 
about that house." 

He looked down upon her, trying to see her expres- 
sion in the shifting light. He had gone through a 
disagreeable little scene with his mother at breakfast. 
She had actually lectured him on the rashness of taking 
the Brook Street house ! — he understanding the whole 
time that what the odd performance really meant was, 
that if he took it he would have a smaller margin of 
income wherefrom to supplement her allowance. 

"Oh, it was all right!" said Letty, composedly. 
" She declared we should get into difficulties at once, 
that I could have no idea of the value of money, that 
you always had been extravagant, that everybody 
would be astonished at our doing such a thing, etcet- 
era, etcetera. I think — you don't mind? — I think 
she cried a little. But she wasn't really very un- 

"What did you say?" 

"Well, I suggested that when we were married, 
we and she should both set up account-books ; and I 
promised faithfully that if she would let us see hers, 
we would let her see ours." 

George threw back his head with a gurgle of 


"She was afraid," said Letty, demurely, "that I 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


didn't take things seriously enough. Then I asked 
her to come and see my gowns." 

" And that, I suppose, appeased her ? " 

" Not at all. She turned up her nose at everything, 
by way of punishing me. You see, she had on a new 
Worth — the third since Christmas. My poor little 
trousseau rags had no chance.'^ 

" H'm ! " said George, meditatively. " I wonder how 
my mamma is going to manage when we are married," 
he added, after a pause. 

Letty made no reply. She was walking firmly and 
briskly ; her eyes, full of a sparkling decision, looked 
straight before her; her little mouth was close set. 
Meanwhile through George's mind there passed a 
number of fragmentary answers to his own question. 
His feeling towards his mother was wholly abnormal ; 
he had no sense of any unseemliness in the conver- 
sation about her which was gradually growing common 
between himself and Letty; and he meant to draw 
strict lines in the future. At the same time, there was 
the tie of old habit, and of that uneasy and imwelcome 
responsibility with regard to her which had descended 
upon him at the time of his father's death. He could 
not honestly regard himself as an affectionate son; but 
the filial relationship, even in its most imperfect as- 
pect, has a way of imposing itself. 

"Ah, well! I daresay we shall pull through," he 
said, dismissing the familiar worry with a long breath. 
"Why, how far we have come!" he added, looking 
back at Charing Cross and the Westminster towers. 
" And how extraordinarily mild it is ! We can't turn 
back yet, and you'll be tired if I race you on in this 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


way. Look, Letty, there's a seat! Would you be 
afraid — just five minutes ? " 

Letty looked doubtful. 

"It's so absurdly late. George, you are funny! 
Suppose somebody came by who knew us?" 

He opened his eyes. 

"And why not? But see! there isn't a carriage, 
and hardly a person, in sight. Just a minute ! " 

Most unwillingly Letty let herself be persuaded. 
It seemed to her a foolish and extravagant thing to 
do; and there was now no need for either folly or 
extravagance. Since her engagement she had dropped 
a good many of the small audacities of the social sort 
she had so freely allowed herself before it. It was as 
though, indeed, now that these audacities had served 
their purpose, some stronger and perhaps inherited 
instincts emerged in her, obscuring the earlier self. 
George was sometimes astonished by an ultra-conven- 
tional note, of which certainly he had heard nothing 
in their first days of intimacy at Malford. 

However, she sat down beside him, protesting. But 
he had no sooner stolen her hand, than the moonlight 
showed her a dark, absent look creeping over his face. 
And to her amazement he began to talk about the 
House of Commons, about the Home Secretary's 
speech, of all things in the world! He seemed to 
be harking back to Mr. Dow son's arguments, to some 
of the stories the Home Secretary had told of those 
wretched people who apparently enjoy dying of over- 
work and phosphorus, and white-lead, who positively 
will die of them, unless the inspectors are always 
harrying them. He still held her hand, but she saw 

VOL. I — I 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


he was not thinking of her ; and a sudden pique rose 
in her small mind. Generally, she accepted his love- 
making very coolly — just as it came, or did not come. 
But to-night she asked herself with irritation — for 
what had he led her into his silly escapade, but to 
make love to her? And now here were her fingers 
slipping out of his, while he harangued her on things 
she knew and cared nothing about, in a voice and 
manner he might have addressed to anybody! 

" Well, I don't understand — I really donH I " she in- 
terrupted sharply. " I thought you were all against 
the Government — I thought you didn't believe a word 
they say ! " 

He laughed. 

"The difference between them and us, darling, is 
only that they think the world can be mended by Act 
of Parliament, and we think it can't. Do what you 
will, we say the world is, and must be, a wretched hole 
for the majority of those that live in it ; they suppose 
they can cure it by quack meddlings and tyrannies." 

He looked straight before him, absorbed, and she 
was struck with the harsh melancholy of his face. 

What on earth had he kept her here for to talk this 
kind of talk ! 

" George, I really must go ! " she began, flushing, and 
drawing her hand away. 

Instantly he turned to her, his look brightening and 

" Must you ? Well, the world sha'n't be a wretched 
hole for us, shall it, darling ? We'll make a little nest 
in it — we'll forget what we can't help — we'll be 
happy as long as the fates let us — won't we, Letty ? ^^ - 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


His arm slipped round behind her. He caught her 

He had recollected himself. Nevertheless Letty was 
keenly conscious that it was all most absurd, this sit- 
ting on a seat in a public thoroughfare late at night, 
and behaving like any 'Any and 'Arriet. 

"Why, of course we shall be happy," she said, 
rising with decision as she spoke ; " only somehow I 
don't always understand you, George. I wish I knew 
what you were really thinking about." 

" Fow/" he said, laughing, and drawing her hand 
within his arm, as they turned backwards towards the 

She shook her head doubtfully. Whereupon he 
awoke fully to the situation, and during the short 
remainder of their walk he wooed and flattered her as 
usual. But when he had put her safely into a hansom 
at the comer of the bridge, and smiled good-bye to 
her, he turned to walk back to the House in much 
sudden flatness of mood. Her little restless egotisms 
of mind and manner had chilled him unawares. Had 
Fontenoy's speech been so fine, after all ? Were 
politics — was anything — quite worth while ? It 
seemed to him that all emotions were small, all crises 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


The following Sunday, somewhere towards five 
o'clock, Greorge rang the bell of the Maxwells' house 
in St. James's Square. It was a very fine house, and 
George's eye, as he stood waiting, ran over the fagade 
with an amused, investigating look. 

He allowed himself the same expression once or 
twice in the hall, as one mute and splendid person 
relieved him of his coat, and another, equally mute 
and equally unsurpassable, waited for him on the 
stairs, while across a passage beyond the hall he saw 
two red-liveried footmen carrying tea. 

" When one is a friend of the people," he pondered 
as he went upstairs, " is one limited in horses but not 
in flunkeys ? These things are obscure." 

He was ushered first into a stately outer drawing- 
room, filled with old French furniture and fine pictures ; 
then the butler lifted a velvet curtain, pronounced the 
visitor's name with a voice and emphasis as perfectly 
trained as the rest of him, and stood aside for George 
to enter. 

He found himself on the threshold of a charming 
room looking west, and lit by some last beams of Feb- 
ruary Sim. The pale-green walls were covered with a 
medley of prints and sketches. A large writing-table, 
imtidily heaped with papers, stood conspicuous on the 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


blue self-coloured carpet, which over a great part of 
the floor was pleasantly void and bare. Flat earthen- 
ware pans, planted with hyacinths and narcissus, stood 
here and there, and filled the air with spring scents. 
Books ran round the lower walls, or lay piled where- 
ever there was a space for them ; while about the fire 
at the further end was gathered a circle of chintz- 
covered chairs — chairs of all shapes and sizes, meant 
for talking. The whole impression of the pretty, dis- 
orderly place, compared with the stately drawing-room 
behind it, was one of intimity and freedom ; the room 
made a friend of you as you entered. 

Half a dozen people were sitting with Lady Max- 
well when Tressady was announced. She rose to 
meet him with great cordiality, introduced him to 
little Lady Leven, an elfish creature in a cloud of 
fair hair, and with a pleasant "You know all the 
rest," offered him a chair beside herself and the tea- 

"The rest" were Frank Leven, Edward Watton, 
Bayle, the Foreign Office private secretary who had 
been staying at Malford House at the time of Tres- 
sady 's election, and Bennett, the " small, dark man " 
whom George had pointed out to Letty in the House 
as a Labour member, and one of the Maxwells' par- 
ticular friends. 

"Well?" said Lady Maxwell, turning to her new 
visitor as she handed him some tea, " were you as much 
taken with the grandmother as the grandmother was 
taken with you ? She told me she had never seen a 
^more haffable gentleman, nor one as she'd a been 
more willin to ha done for ' ! " 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


George laughed. " I see/' lie said, " that my report 
has been anticipated." 

" Yes — I have been there. I have found a ^ case ' in 
them indeed — alack ! The granny — I am afraid she 
is an unseemly old woman — and the elder girl both 
work for the Jew son-in-law on the first floor — home- 
work of the most abominable kind — that girl will be 
dead in a year if it goes on.'' 

George was rapidly conscious of two contradictory 
impressions — one of pleasure, one of annoyance — 
pleasure in her tall, slim presence, her white hand, and 
all the other flashing points of a beauty not to be 
denied — and irritation that she should have talked 
" shop " to him with her first breath. Could one never 
escape this altruistic chatter ? 

But he was not left to grapple with it alone, for 
Lady Leven looked up quickly. 

" Mr. Watton, will you please take Lady MaxwelPs 
tea away if she mentions the word 'case' again? 
We gave her fair warning." 

Lady Maxwell hastily clasped both her hands round 
her tea-cup. 

"Betty, we have discussed the opera for at least 
twenty minutes." 

"Yes — at peril of our lives!" said Lady Leven. 
" I never talked so fast before. One felt as though 
one must say everything one had to say about Melba 
and the de Reszkes, all in one breath — before one's 
poor little subject was torn from one — one would 
never have such a chance again." 

Lady Maxwell laughed, but coloured too. 

"Am I such a nuisance?" she said, dropping her 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


hands on her knee with a little sigh. Then she turned 
to Tressady. 

" But Lady Leven really makes it out worse than it 
is. We haven't even approached a Factory Act all the 

Lady Leven sprang forward in her chair. " Because ! 
because, my dear, we simply declined to let you. We 
made a league — didn't we, Mr. Bennett ? — even you 
joined it.'' 

Bennett smiled. 

"Lady Maxwell overworks herself — we all know 
that," he said, his look, at once kind, honest, and per- 
ennially embarrassed, passing from Lady Leven to his 

" Gh, don't sympathise, for Heaven's sake ! " cried 
Betty. " Wage war upon her — it's our only hope." 

"Don't you think Sunday at least ought to be 
frivolous?" said Tressady, smiling, to Lady Maxwell. 

"Well, personally, I like to talk about what inter- 
ests me on Sunday as well as on other days," she said 
with a frank simplicity ; " but I know I ought to be 
kept in order — I become a terrible bore." 

Frank Leven roused himself from the sofa on which 
he had languidly subsided. 

"Bores?" he said indignantly, "we're all bores. 
We all have been bores since people began to think 
about what they're pleased to call ^social work.' 
Why should I love my neighbour ? — I'd much rather 
hate him. I generally do." 

" Doesn't it all depend," said Tressady, " on whether 
he happens to be able to make it disagreeable for you 
in return ? " 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


" That's just it," said Betty Leven, eagerly. " I agree 
with Frank — it's all so stupid, this * loving' every- 
body. It makes one positively hot. We sit under a 
clergyman, Frank and I, who talks of nothing every 
Sunday but love — love — like that, long-drawn-out — 
how our politics should be *love/ and our shopping 
should be *love' — till we long simply to bastinado 
somebody. I want to have a little real nice cruelty 
— something sharp and interesting. I should like to 
stick pins into my maid, only unfortunately, as she 
has more than once pointed out to me, it would be so 
much easier for her to stick them into me ! " 

" You want the time of Miss Austen's novels back 
again," said young Bayle, stooping to her, with his 
measured and agreeable smile — "before even the 
clergy had a mission." 

" Ah ! but it would be no good," said Lady Leven, 
sighing, " if she were there ! " 

She threw out her small hand towards her hostess, 
and everybody laughed. 

Up to the moment of the laugh. Lady Maxwell 
had been lying back in her chair listening, the beau- 
tiful mouth absently merry, and the eyes speaking — 
Tressady thought — of quite other things, of some 
hidden converse of her own, going on in the brain 
behind the eyes. A certain prophetess-air seemed 
natural to her. Nevertheless, that first impression 
of her he had carried away from the hospital scene 
was being somehow blurred and broken up. 

She joined in the laugh against herself ; then, with 
a little nod towards her assailant, she said to Edward 
Watton, who was sitting on her right hand — 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


" You^ie not taken in, I know." 

"Oh, if you mean that I go in for ^cases' and 
^causes' too," cried Lady Leven, interrupting, "of 
course I do — I can't be left alone. I must dance 
as my generation pipes." 

"Which means," said her husband, drily, "that 
she went for two days filling sodarwater bottles the 
week before last, and a day's shirt-making last week. 
From the first, I was told that she would probably 
return to me with an eye knocked out, she being 
totally inexperienced and absurdly rash. As to the 
second, to judge from the description she gave me of 
the den she had been sitting in when she came home, 
and the headache she had next day, I still expect 
typhoid. The fortnight isn't up till Wednesday." 

There was a shout of mingled laughter and inquiry. 

" How did you do it ? — and whom did you bribe ? " 
said Bayle to Lady Leven. 

"I didn't bribe anybody," she said indignantly. 
" You don't understand. My friends introduced me." 

Then, drawn out by him, she plunged into a lively 
account of her workshop experiences, interrupted 
every now and then by the sarcastic comments of 
her husband and the amusement of the two younger 
men who had brought their chairs close to her. 
Betty Leven ranked high among the lively chatter- 
boxes of her day and set. 

Lady Maxwell, however, had not laughed at Frank 
Leven's speech. Rather, as he spoke of his wife's 
experiences, her face had clouded, as though the 
blight of some too familiar image, some sad ever- 
present vision, had descended upon her. 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


Bennett also did not laugh. He watched the 
Levens indulgently for a few minutes, then insen- 
sibly he, Lady Maxwell, Edward Watton, and Tres- 
sady drew together into a circle of their own. 

"Do you gather that Lord Fontenoy's speech on 
Friday has been much taken up in the country?" 
said Bennett, bending forward and addressing Lady 
Maxwell. Tressady, who was observing him, noticed 
that his dress was precisely the "Sunday best" of 
the respectable workman, and was, moreover, re- 
minded by the expression of the eyes and brow 
that Bennett was said to have been a well-known 
"local preacher" in his north-cormtry youth. 

Lady Maxwell smiled, and pointed to Tressady. 

"Here," she said, "is Lord Fontenoy's first-lieu- 

Bennett looked at George. 

"I should be glad," he said, "to know what Sir 
George thinks?" 

"Why, certainly — we think it has been very 
warmly taken up," said George, promptly — "to judge 
from the newspapers, the letters that have been pour- 
ing in, and the petitions that seem to be preparing." 

Lady Maxwell's eyes gleamed. She looked at 
Bennett silently a moment, then she said: 

" Isn't it amazing to you how strong an impossible 
case can be made to look ? " 

" It is inevitable," said Bennett, with a little shrug, 
" quite inevitable. These social experiments of ours 
are so young — there is always a strong case to be 
made out against any of them, and there will be for 
years to come." 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


"Well and good," said George; "then we cavillers 
are inevitable too. Don't attack us — praise us rather ; 
by your own confession, we are as much a part of the 
game as you are.'- 

Bennett smiled slightly, but did not in reality quite 
follow. Lady Maxwell bent forward. 

" Do you know whether Lord Fontenoy has any per- 
soncU knowledge of the trades he was speaking about? " 
she said, in her rich eager voice ; " that is what I want 
so much to find out." 

George was nettled by both the question and the 

"I regard Fontenoy as a very competent person," 
he said drily. " I imagine he did his best to inform 
himself. But there was not much need ; the persons 
concerned — whom you think you are protecting — 
were so very eager to inform us ! " 

Lady Maxwell flushed. 

"And you think that settles it — the eagerness of 
the cheap life to be allowed to maim and waste itself ? 
But again and again English law has stepped in to 
prevent it — and again and again everybody has been 

"It is all a question of balance, of course," said 
George. "Must a few unwise people be allowed to 
kill themselves — or thousands lose their liberty?" 

His blue eyes scanned her beautiful impetuous face 
with a certain cool hardness. Internally he was more 
and more in revolt against a " monstrous regiment of 
women" and the influence upon the most complex 
economic problems of such a personality as that before 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


But his word " liberty " pricked her. The look of 
feeling passed away. Her eyes kindled as sharply 
and drily as his own. 

" Freedom ? — let me quote you Cromwell ! ^ Every 
sectary saith, " give me liberty ! '^ But give it him, 
and to the best of his power he will yield it to no 
one else.' So with your careless or brutal employer 

— give him liberty, and no one else shall get it.'' 
"Only by metaphor — not legally," said George, 

stubbornly. " So long as men are not slaves by law 
there is always a chance for freedom. Any way 
we stand for freedom-^ as an end, not a means. It 
is not the business of the State to make people happy 

— not at all ! — at least that is our view — but it is the 
business of the State to keep them free." 

"Ah!" said Bennett, with a long breath, "there 
you've hit the nail — the whole difference between 
you and us." 

George nodded. Lady Maxwell did not speak imme- 
diately. But George was conscious that he was being 
observed, closely considered. Their glances crossed 
an instant, in antagonism, certainly, if not in dislike. 

" How long is it since you came home from India ? " 
she asked him suddenly. 

" About six months." 

" And you were, I think, a long time abroad ? " 

"Nearly four years. Does that make you think I 
have not had much time to get up the things I am 
going to vote about ? " said the young man, laughing. 
"I don't know! On the broadest issues of politics, 
one makes up one's mind as well in Asia as in Europe 
— better perhaps." 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


" On the Empire, I suppose — and England's place 
in the world? That's a side which — I know — I re- 
member much too little. You think our life depends 
on a governing class — and that we and democracy- 
are weakening that class too much ? " 

" That's about it. And for democracy it is all right. 
But you — you are the traitors ! " 

His thrust, however, did not rouse her to any corre- 
sponding rhetoric. She smiled merely, and began to 
question him about his travels. She did it with great 
deftness, so that after an answer or two both his tem- 
per and manner insensibly softened, and he found 
himself talking with ease and success. His mixed 
personality revealed itself — his capacity for certain 
veiled enthusiasms, his respect for power, for know- 
ledge, his pessimist beliefs as to the average lot of 

Bennett, who listened easily, was glad to help her 
make her guest talk. Erank Leven left the group 
near the sofa and came to listen, too. Tressady was 
more and more spurred, carried out of himself. Lady 
Maxwell's fine eyes and stately ways were humanised 
after all by a quick responsiveness, which for most 
people, however critical, made conversation with her 
draw like a magnet. Her intelligence, too, was com- 
petent, left the mere feminine behind in these connec- 
tions that Tressady offered her, no less than in others. 
She had not lived in the world of high politics for 
nearly five years for nothing; so that unconsciously, 
and indeed quite against his will, Tressady found 
himself talking to her, after a while, as though she 
had been a man and an equal, while at the same time 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


taking more pains than he would ever have taken for 
a man. 

"Well, you have seen a lot ! " said Frank Leven at 
last, with a rather envious sigh. 

Bennett's modest face suddenly reddened. 

"If only Sir George will use his eyes to as good 
purpose at home — '' he said involuntarily, then 
stopped. Few men were more unready and awkward 
in conversation ; yet when roused he was one of the 
best platform speakers of his day. 

George laughed. 

" One sees best what appeals to one, I am afraid,'' 
he said, only to be instantly conscious that he had 
made a rather stupid admission in face of the enemy. 

Lady Maxwell's lip twitched; he saw the flash 
of some quick thought cross her face. But she said 

Only when he got up to go, she bade him notice that 
she was always at home on Sundays, and would be 
glad that he should remember it. He made a rather 
cold and perfunctory reply. Inwardly he said to him- 
self, " Why does she say nothing of Letty, whom she 
knows — and of our marriage — if she wants to make 
friends ? " 

Nevertheless, he left the house with the feeling of 
one who has passed an hour not of the common sort. 
He had done himself justice, made his mark. And as 
for her — in spite of his flashes of dislike he carried 
away a strong impression of something passionate and 
vivid that clung to the memory. Or was it merely 
eyes and pose, that astonishingly beautiful colour, and 
touch of classic dignity which she got — so the world 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


said — from some • remote strain of Italian blood? 
Most probably ! All the same, she had fewer of the 
ordinary womanly arts than he had imagined. How 
easy it would have been to send that message to Letty 
she had not sent! He thought simply that for a 
clever woman she might have been more adroit. 

The door had no sooner closed behind Tressady than 
Betty Leven, with a quick look after him, bent across 
to her hostess, and said in a stage whisper : 

" Who ? Post me up, please.'' 

" One of Fontenoy's gang,'' said her husband, before 
Lady Maxwell could answer. " A new member, and as 
sharp as needles. He's been exactly to all the places 
where I want to go, Betty, and you won't let me." 

He glanced at his wife with a certain sharpness. 
For Tressady had spoken in passing of nilghai-shooting 
in the Himalayas, and the remark had brought the flush 
of an habitual discontent to the yoimg man's cheek. 

Betty merely held out a white child's wrist. 

"Button my glove, please, and don't talk. I have 
got ever so many questions to ask Marcella." 

Leven applied himself rather sulkily to his task 
while Betty pursued her inquiries. 

" Isn't he going to marry Letty Sewell ? " 

" Yes," said Lady Maxwell, opening her eyes rather 
wide. " Do you know her ? " 

"Why, my dear, she's Mr. Watton's cousin — isn't 
she ? " said Betty, turning towards that young man. 
" I saw her once at your mother's." 

" Certainly she is my cousin," said that young man, 
smiling, "and she is going to marry Tressady at 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


Easter. So much I can vouch for, though I don't know 
her so well, perhaps, as the rest of my family do/' 

" Oh ! " said Betty, drily, releasing her husband and 
crossing her small hands across her knee. "That 
means — Miss Sewell isn't one of Mr. Watton's far 
vourite cousins. You don't mind talking about your 
cousins, do you ? You may blacken the character of 
all mine. Is she nice ? " 

" Who — Letty ? Why, of course she is nice," said 
Edward Watton, laughing. " All young ladies are." 

"Oh goodness!" said Betty, shaking her halo of 
gold hair. " Commend me to cousins for letting one 
down easy." 

" Too bad. Lady Leven ! " said Watton, getting up 
to escape. "Why not ask Bayle? He knows all 
things. Let me hand you over to him. He will sing 
you all my cousin's charms." 

" Delighted ! " said Bayle as he, too, rose — " only 
unfortimately I ought at this moment to be at Wim- 

He had the air of a typical official, well dressed, 
suave, and infinitely self-possessed, as he held out his 
hand — deprecatingly — to Lady Leven. 

" Oh ! you private secretaries ! " said Betty, pouting 
and turning away from him. 

" Don't abolish us," he said, pleading. " We must 

" Je n'en vois pas la n^cessitil^' said Betty, over her 

"Betty, what a babe you are!" cried her hus- 
band, as Bayle, Watton, and Bennett all disappeared 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


"Kot at all ! " cried Betty. "I wanted to get some 
truth out of somebody. For, of course, the real truth 
is that this Miss Sewell is — " 

"Is what?" said Leven, lost in admiration all the 
time, as Lady Maxwell saw,. of his wife's dainty grace 
and rose-leaf colour. 

" Well — a — miTix 1 '' said Betty, with innocent slow- 
ness, opening her blue eyes very wide; "a mischiev- 
ous — rather pretty — hard-hearted — flirting — little 
minx I " 

"Really, Betty!'' cried Lady Maxwell. "Where 
have you seen her?" 

"Oh, I saw her last year several times at the 
Wattons' and other places," said Betty, composedly. 
"And so did you too, please, madam. I remember 
very well one day Mrs. Watton brought her into the 
Winterbournes' when you and I were there, and she 
chattered a great deal." 

" Oh yes ! — I had forgotten." 

" Well, my dear, you'll soon have to remember her ! 
so you needn't talk in that lofty tone. For they're 
going to be married at Easter, and if you want to 
make friends with the young man, you'll have to 
realise the wife ! " 

" Married at Easter ? How do you know ? " 

"In the first place Mr. Watton said so, in the next 
there are such things as newspapers. But of course 
you didn't notice such trifles, you never do." 

" Betty, you're very cross with me to-day ! " Lady 
Maxwell looked up at her friend with a little pleading 

^* Oh no ! only for your good. I know you're think- 

VOL. I — K 

Digitized by VjQOQIC 


ing of nothing in the world but how to make that man 
take a reasonable view of Maxwell's Bill. And I want 
to impress upon you that he's probably thinking a 
great deal more about getting married than about 
Factory Bills. You see, your getting married was a 
kind of accident. But other people are different. 
And oh, dear, you do know so little about them when 
they don't live in four pair backs! There, don't 
defend yourself — you sha'n't!" 

And, stooping, Betty stifled her friend's possible 
protest by kissing her. 

"Now then, come along, Frank — you've got your 
speech to write — and I've got to copy it out. Don't 
swear ! you know you're going to have two whole days' 
golfing next week. Good-bye, Marcella ! My love to 
Aldous — and tell him not to be so late next time I 
come to tea. Good-bye ! " 

And off she swept, pausing, however, on the landing 
to open the door again and put in an eager face. 

" Oh ! and, by the way, the young man has a mother 
— Frank reminded me. His womenkind don't seem 
to be his strong point — but as she doesn't earn even 
four-and-sixpence a week — very sadly the contrary 
— I won't tell you any more now, or you'll forget. 
Next time I " 

When Marcella Maxwell was at last left alone, she 
began to pace slowly up and down the large bare room, 
as it was very much her wont to do. 

She was thinking of George Tressady, and of the 
personality his talk had seemed to reveal. 

"His heart is all in power — in what he takes for 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


magnificence," she said to herself. "He talks as if 
he had no humanity, and did not care a rap for any- 
body. But it is a pose — I thiiik it is a pose. He is 
interesting — he will develop. One would like — to 
show him things." 

After another pensive turn or two she stopped be- 
side a photograph that stood upon her writing-table. 
It was a photograph of her husband — a tall, smooth- 
faced man, with pleasant eyes, features of no particu- 
lar emphasis, and the free carriage of the country-bred 
Englishman. As she looked at it her face relaxed 
unconsciously, inevitably ; under the stimulus of some 
habitual and secret joy. It was for his sake, for 
his sake only that she was still thinking of George 
Tressady, still pondering the young man's character 
and remarks. 

So much at least was true — no other member of 
Fontenoy's party had as yet given her even the chance 
of arguing with him. Once or twice in society she 
had tried to approach Fontenoy himself, to get some- 
how into touch with him. But she had made no way. 
Lord Fontenoy had simply turned his square-jawed 
face and red-rimmed eyes upon her with a stupid 
irresponsive air, which Marcella knew perfectly well 
to be a mask, while it protected him none the less 
effectively for that against both her eloquence and her 
charm. The other members of the party were young 
aristocrats, either of the ultra-exclusive or of the sport- 
ing type. She had made her attempts here and there 
among them, but with no more success. And once or 
twice, when she had pushed her attack to close quar- 
ters, she had been suddenly conscious of an underlying 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


insolence in her opponent — a quick glance of bold or 
sensual eyes which seemed to relegate the mere woman 
to her place. 

But this young Tressady, for all his narrowness 
and bitterness, was of a different stamp — or she 
thought so. 

She began to pace up and down again, lost in reverie, 
till after a few minutes she came slowly to a stop be- 
fore a long Louis Quinze mirror — her hands clasped 
in front of her, her eyes half consciously studying 
what she saw. 

Her own beauty invariably gave her pleasure — 
though very seldom for the reasons that would have 
affected other women. She felt instinctively that it 
made life easier for her than it could otherwise have 
been ; that it provided her with a natural and profit- 
able " opening " in any game she might wish to play ; 
and that even among the workmen, unionist leaders, and 
officials of the East End it had helped her again and 
again to score the points that she wanted to make. 
She was accustomed to be looked at, to be the centre, 
to feel things yielding before her ; and without think- 
ing it out, she knew perfectly well what it was she 
gained by this "fair seeming show" of eye and lip 
and form. Somehow it made nothing seem impossi- 
ble to her ; it gave her a dazzling self-confidence. 

The handle of the door turned. She looked round 
with a smiling start, and waited. 

A tall man in a grey suit came in, crossed the room 
quickly, and put his arms round her. She leant back 
against his shoulder, putting up one hand to touch his 
cheek caressingly. 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


"Why, how late you axe! Betty left reproaches 
for you." 

" I had a walk with Dowson. Then two or three 
people caught me on the way back — Eashdell among 
others." (Lord Eashdell was Foreign Secretary.) 
"There are some interesting telegrams from Paris — 
I copied them out for you." 

The country happened to be at the moment in the 
midst of one of its periodical difficulties with Prance. 
There had been a good deal of diplomatic friction, and 
a certain amount of anxiety at the Foreign Office. 
Marcella lit the silver kettle again and made her man 
some fresh tea, while he told her the news, and they 
discussed the various points of the telegrams he had 
copied for her, with a comrade's freedom and vivacity. 
Then she said : 

" Well, I have had an interesting time too ! That 
young Tressady has been to tea." 

" Oh ! has he ? They say there is a lot of stuff in 
him, and he may do us a great deal of mischief. How 
did you find him ? " 

"Oh, very clever, very limited — and a mass of prej- 
udices," she said, laughing. " I never saw an odder 
mixture of knowledge and ignorance." 

"What? Knowledge of India and the East? — 
that kind of thing ? " 

She nodded. 

" Knowledge of everything except the subject he has 
come home to fight about ! Do you know, Aldous — " 

She paused. She was sitting on a stool beside him, 
her arm upon his knee. 

"What do I know ? " he said, his hand seeking hers. 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


"Well, I can't help feeling that that man might live 
and learn. He isn't a mere obstructive block — like 
the rest." 

Maxwell laughed. 

" Then Fontenoy is not as shrewd as usual. They 
say he regards him as their best recruit." 

"Never mind. I rather wish you'd try to make 
friends with him." 

Maxwell, however, helped himself to cake and made 
no response. On the two or three occasions on which 
he had met George Tressady, he had been conscious, 
if the truth were told, of a certain vague antipathy to 
the young man. 

Marcella pondered. 

"No," she said, "no — I don't think after all he's 
your sort. Suppose I see what can be done ! " 

And she got up with her flashing smile — half love, 
half fun — and crossed the room to summon her little 
boy, Hallin, for his evening play. Maxwell looked 
after her, not heeding at all what she was saying, 
heeding only herself, her voice, the atmosphere of 
charm and life she carried with her. 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


Marcella Maxwell, however, had not been easily 
wooed by the man who now filled all the horizon of 
her life. At the time when Aldous Raeburn, as he 
then was — the grandson and heir of old Lord Max- 
well — came across her first she was a handsome, un- 
developed girl, of a type not uncommon in our modern 
world, belonging by birth to the country-squire class, 
and by the chances of a few years of student life in 
London to the youth that takes nothing on authority, 
and puts to fierce question whatever it finds already 
on its path — Governments, Churches, the powers of 
family and wealth — that takes, moreover, its social 
pity for the only standard, and spends that pity only 
on one sort and type of existence. She accepted Rae- 
burn, then the best parti in the county, without under- 
standing or loving him, simply that she might use his 
power and wealth for certain social ends to which the 
crude philanthropy of her youth had pledged itself. 
Naturally, they were no sooner engaged than Eaeburn 
found himself launched upon a long wrestle with the 
girl who had thus — in the selfishness of her passion- 
ate idealist youth — opened her relation to him with a 
deliberate affront to the heart offered her. The en- 
gagement had stormy passages, and was for a time 
wholly broken off. Aldous was made bitterly jealous, 


Digitized by VjOOQIC 


or miserably unhappy. Marcella left the old house 
in the neighbourhood of the Maxwell property, where 
her lover had first seen and courted her. She plunged 
into London life, and into nursing, that common outlet 
for the woman at war with herself or society. She 
suffered and struggled, and once or twice she came 
very near to throwing away all her chances of happi- 
ness. But in the end, Maxwell tamed her; Maxwell 
recovered her. The rise of love in the unruly, impetu- 
ous creature, when the rise came, was like the sudden 
growth of some great forest flower. It spread with 
transforming beauty over the whole nature, till at last 
the girl who had once looked upon him as the mere 
tool of her own moral ambitions threw herself upon 
Maxwell's heart with a self-abandoning passion and 
penitence, which her developed powers and her adora- 
ble beauty made a veritable intoxication. 

And Maxwell was worthy that she should do this 
thing. When he and Marcella first met, he was a man 
of thirty, very able, very reserved, and often painfully 
diffident as to his own powers and future. He was the 
only young representative of a famous stock, and had 
grown up from his childhood under the shadow of great 
sorrows and heavy responsibilities. The stuff of the 
poet and the thinker lay hidden behind his shy man- 
ners ; and he loved Marcella Boyce with all the deli- 
cacy, all the idealising respect, that passion generates 
in natures so strong and so highly tempered. At the 
same time, he had little buoyancy or gaiety ; he had 
a belief in his class, and a constitutional dislike of 
change, which were always fighting in his mind with 
the energies of moral debate ; and he acquiesced very 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


easily — perhaps indifferently — in many outward con- 
ventions and prejudices. 

The crisis through which Marcella put him devel- 
oped and matured the man. To the influences of love, 
moreover, were added the influences of friendship — 
of such a friendship as our modern time but seldom 
rears to perfection. In Raeburn's college days, a man 
of rare and delicate powers had possessed himself of 
Raeburn's tenacious affection, and had thenceforward 
played the leader to Raeburn's strength, physical and 
moral, availing himself freely, wherever his own failed 
him, of the powers and capacities of his friend. For 
he himself bore in him from his youth up the seeds of 
physical failure and early death. It was partly the 
marvellous struggle in him of soul with body that 
subdued to him the homage of the stronger man. And 
it was clearly his influence that broke up and fired 
Raeburn's slower and more distrustful temper, in- 
forming an inbred Toryism, a natural passion for 
tradition, and the England of tradition with that 
** repining restlessness" which is the best spur of 
noble living. 

Hallin was a lecturer and an economist ; a man who 
lived in the perception of the great paradox that in 
our modern world political power has gone to the 
workman, while yet socially and intellectually he re- 
mains little less weak, or starved, or subject than 
before. When he died he left to Raeburn a legacy of 
feelings and ideas, all largely concerned with this 
contrast between the huge and growing " tyranny " of 
the working class and the individual helplessness or 
bareness of the working man. And it was these feel- 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


ings and ideas which from the beginning made a link 
between Raeburn and the young revolts and compas- 
sions of Marcella Boyce. They were at one in their 
love of Edward Hallin; and after Hallin^s death, in 
their sore and tender wish to make his thoughts tell 
upon the English world. 

The Maxwells had now been married some five 
years, years of almost incredible happiness. The 
equal comradeship of marriage at its best and finest, 
all the daily disciplines, the profound and painless 
lessons of love, the covetous bliss of parentage, the 
constant anxieties of power nobly understood, had 
harmonised the stormy nature of the woman, and had 
transformed the somewhat pessimist and scrupulous 
character of the man. Not that life with Marcella 
Maxwell was always easy. Now as ever she remained 
on the moral side a creature of strain and effort, tor- 
mented by ideals not to be realised, and eager to drive 
herself and others in a breathless pursuit of them. 

But if in some sort she seemed to be always dragging 
those that loved her through the heart of a tempest, 
the tempest had such golden moments ! No wife had 
ever more capacity for all the delicacies and depths of 
passion towards the man of her choice. All the anx- 
ieties she brought with her, all the perplexities and 
difficulties she imposed, had never yet seemed to 
Maxwell anything but divinely worth while. So far, 
indeed, he had never even remotely allowed himself 
to put the question. Her faults were her; and she 
was his light of life. 

For some time after their marriage, which took place 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


about a year after Ms accession to the title and estates, 
they had lived at the stately house in Brookshire be- 
longing to the Maxwells, and Marcella had thrown 
herself into the management of a large household and 
property with characteristic energy and originality. 
She had tried new ways of choosing and governing 
her servants ; new ways of entertaining the poor, and 
of making Maxwell Court the centre, not of one class, 
but of all. She ran up a fair score of blunders, but not 
one of them was the blunder of meanness or vulgarity. 
Her nature was inventive and poetic, and the rich ful- 
filment that had overtaken her own personal desires 
did but sting her eager passion to give and to serve. 

Meanwhile the family house in town was sold, and 
what with the birth of her son, and the multiplicity 
of the rural interests to which she had set her hand, 
Marcella felt no need of London. But towards the 
end of the second year she perceived — though he 
said little about it — that there was in her hus- 
band's mind a strong and persistent drawing towards 
his former political interests and associations. The 
late Lord Maxwell had sat in several Conservative 
cabinets, and his grandson, after a distinguished 
career in the House as a private member, had ac- 
cepted a subordinate place in the Government only 
a few months before his grandfather's death trans- 
ferred him to the Lords. After that event, a scrupu- 
lous conscience had forced him to take landowning 
as a profession and an arduous one. The Premier 
made him flattering advances, and his friends re- 
monstrated, but he had none the less relinquished 
office, and buried himself on his land. 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


Now, however, after some three years' hard and 
unremitting work, the estate was in excellent con- 
dition; the "new ways" of the new owners had 
been well started; and both Maxwell and Marcella 
had fitting lieutenants who could be left in charge. 
Moreover, matters were being agitated at the mo- 
ment in politics which had special significance for 
the man's idealist and reflective mind. His country 
friends and neighbours hardly understood why. 

For it was merely a question of certain further meas- 
ures of factory reform. A group of labour leaders 
were pressing upon the public and the Government 
a proposal to pass a special Factory Act for certain 
districts and trades of East London. In spite of Com- 
missions, in spite of recent laws, " sweating,'' so it was 
urged, was as bad as ever — nay, in certain localities 
and industries was more frightful and more oppressive 
than ever. The waste of life and health involved in 
the great clothing industries of East London, for in- 
stance, which had provoked law after law, inquiry 
after inquiry, still went — so it was maintained — its 
hideous way. 

" Have courage ! " cried the reformers. " Take, at 
last, the only effectual step. Make it penal to prac- 
tise certain trades in the houses of the people — drive 
them all into factories of a certain size, where alone 
these degraded industries can be humanised and con- 
trolled. Above all, make up your mind to a legal 
working day for East London men as well as East 
London women. Try the great experiment first of all 
in this omnivorous, inarticulate London, this dustbin 
for the rubbish of all nations. Here the problem is 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


worst — here the victims are weakest and most man- 
ageable. London will bear what would stir a riot in 
Birmingham or Leeds. Make the experiment as par- 
tial and as tentative as you please — give the Home 
Office power to extend or revoke it at will — but 
try it!'' 

The change proposed was itself of vast importance, 
and was, moreover, but a prelude to things still more 
far-reaching. But, critical as it was, Maxwell was 
prepared for it. During the later years of his friend 
Hallin's life the two men had constantly discussed 
the industrial consequences of democracy with un- 
flagging eagerness and intelligence. To both it 
seemed not only inevitable, but the object of the 
citizen's dearest hopes, that the rule of the people 
should bring with it, in ever-ascending degree, the 
ordering and moralising of the worker's toil. Yet 
neither had the smallest belief that any of the great 
civilised communities would ever see the State the 
sole landlord and the sole capitalist; or that Col- 
lectivism as a system has, or deserves to have, any 
serious prospects in the world. To both, possession 
— private and personal possession — from the child's 
first toy, or the tiny garden where it sows its pas- 
sionately watched seeds, to the great business or the 
great estate, is one of the first and chiefest elements 
of human training, not to be escaped by human effort, 
or only at such a cost of impoverishment and disaster 
that mankind would but take the step — supposing 
it conceivable that it should take it — to retrace it 

Maxwell's heart, however, was much less concerned 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


with this belief, tenaciously as he held it, than with 
its relative — the limitation of private possession by 
the authority of the common conscience. That "we 
are not our own " has not, indeed, been left to Lassalle 
or Marx to discover. But if you could have moved 
this quiet Englishman to speak, he would have said — 
his strong, brooding face all kindled and alive — that 
the enormous industrial development of the past cen- 
tury has shown us the forces at work in the evolution 
of human societies on a gigantic scale, and by thus 
magnifying them has given us a new understanding 
of them. The vast extension of the individual will 
and power which science has brought to humanity dur- 
ing the last hundred years was always present to him 
as food for a natural exultation — a kind of pledge of 
the boundless prospects of the race. On the other 
hand the struggle of society brought face to face with 
this huge increment of the individual power, forced to 
deal with it for its own higher and mysterious ends, 
to moralise and socialise it lest it should destroy itself 
and the State together ; the slow steps by which the 
modern community has succeeded in asserting itself 
against the individual, in protecting the weak from 
his weakness, the poor from his poverty, in defending 
the woman and child from the fierce claims of capital, 
in forcing upon trade after trade the axiom that no 
man may lawfully build his wealth upon the exhaus- 
tion and degradation of his fellow — these things 
stirred in him the far deeper enthusiasms of the 
moral nature. Nay more! Together with all the 
other main facts which mark the long travail of man's 
ethical and social life, they were among the only 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


" evidences " of religion a critical mind allowed itself 
— the most striking signs of something " greater than 
we know" working among the dust and ugliness of 
our common day. Attack wealth as wealth, possession 
as possession, and civilisation is undone. But bring 
the force of the social conscience to bear as keenly 
and ardently as you may, upon the separate activities 
of factory and household, farm and office; and from 
the results you will only get a richer individual free- 
dom, one more illustration of the divinest law man 
serves — that he must "die to live," must surrender 
to obtain. 

Such at least was Maxwell's persuasion ; though as 
a practical man he admitted, of course, many limita- 
tions of time, occasion, and degree. And long compan- 
ionship with him had impressed the same faith also 
on Marcella. With the natural conceit of the shrewd 
woman, she would probably have maintained that 
her social creed came entirely of mother-wit and her 
own exertions — her experiences in London, reading, 
and the rest. In reality it was in her the pure birth 
of a pure passion. She had learnt it while she was 
learning to love Aldous Raebum ; and it need astonish 
no one that the more dependent all her various phi- 
losophies of life hBtd become on the mere personal in- 
fluence and joy of marriage, the more agile had she 
grown in all that concerned the mere intellectual 
defence of them. She could argue better and think 
better; but at bottom, if the truth were told, they 
were MaxwelPs arguments and Maxwell's thoughts. 

So that when this particular agitation began, and 
he grew restless in his silent way, she grew restless 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


too. They took down the old worn portfolios of 
Hallin's papers and letters, and looked through them, 
night after night, as they sat alone together in the 
great library of the Court. Both Marcella and Aldous 
could remember the writing of many of these innu- 
merable drafts of Acts, these endless memoranda on 
special points, and must needs try, for love's sake, to 
forget the terrible strain and effort with which a dying 
man had put them together. She was led by them 
to think of the many workmen friends she had made 
during the year of her nursing life ; while he had re- 
membrances of much personal work and investigation of 
his own, undertaken during the time of his under-secre- 
taryship, to add to hers. Another Liberal government 
was slipping to its fall — if a Conservative government 
came in, with a possible opening in it for Aldous Max- 
well, what then ? Was the chance to be seized ? 

One May twilight, just before dinner, as the two 
were strolling up and down the great terrace just in 
front of the Court, Aldous paused and looked at the 
majestic house beside them. 

"What's the good of talking about these things 
while we live there? ^' he said, with a gesture towards 
the house, half impatient, half humorous. 

Marcella laughed. Then she sprang away from him, 
considering, a sudden brightness in her eye. She had 
an idea. 

The idea after all was a very simple one. But the 
probability is that, had she not been there to carry 
him through, Maxwpll would have neither found it 
nor followed it. However that may be, in a very few 
days she had clothed it with fact, and made so real a 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


thing of it that she was amazed at her own success. 
She and Maxwell had settled themselves in a small 
furnished house in the Mile End Eoad, and Maxwell 
was once more studying the problems of his measure 
that was to be in the midst of the populations to 
whom it applied. The house had been recently let in 
"apartments" by a young tradesman and his wife, 
well known to Marcella. In his artisan days the 
man had been her friend, and for a time her patient. 
She knew how to put her hand on him at once. 

They spent five months in the little house, while 
the London that knew them in St. James's Square 
looked on, and made the comments — half amused, 
half inquisitive — that the act seemed to invite. 
There was of course no surprise. Nothing surprises 
the London of to-day. Or if there were any, it was 
all Marcella's. In spite of her passionate sympathy 
with the multitude who live in disagreeable homes on 
about a pound a week, she herself was very sensitive 
to the neighbourhood of beautiful things, to the 
charm of old homes, cool woods, green lawns, and 
the 'rise and fall of Brookshire hills. Against her 
wish, she had thought of sacrifice in thinking of the 
Mile End Eoad in August. 

But there was no sacrifice. Frankly, these five 
months were among the happiest of her life. She 
and Maxwell were constantly together, from morning 
till night, doing the things that were congenial to 
them, and seeing the things that interested them. 
They went in and out of every factory and work- 
shop in which certain trades were practised, within 
a three-mile radius; they became the intimate friends 

VOL. I — L 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


of every factory inspector and every trade-union offi- 
cial in the place. Luckily, Maxwell's shyness — at 
least in Mile End — was not of the sort that can be 
readily mistaken for a haughty mind. He was always 
ready to be informed ; his diffident kindness asked to 
be set at ease ; while in any real ardour of debate his 
trained capacity and his stores of knowledge would 
put even the expert on his mettle. 

As for Marcella, it was her idiosyncrasy that these 
tailors, furriers, machinists, shirtmakers, by whom she 
wUs surrounded in East London, stirred her imagi- 
nation far more readily than the dwellers in great 
houses and the wearers of fine raiment had ever 
stirred it. And Marcella, in the kindled sympathetic 
state, was always delightful to herself and others. 
She revelled in the little house and its ugly, drug- 
getted rooms; in the absence of all the usual para- 
phernalia of their life ; in her undisturbed possession 
of the husband who was at once her lover and the 
best company she knew or could desire. On the few 
days when he left her for the day on some errand in 
which she could not share, to meet him at the train 
in the evening like any small clerk's wife, to help him 
carry the books and papers with which he was gen- 
erally laden along the hot and dingy street, to make 
him tea from her little spirit kettle, and then to hear 
the news of the day in the shade of the little smutty 
back-garden, while the German charwoman who 
cooked for them had her way with the dinner — 
there was not an incident in the whole trivial pro- 
cession that did not amuse and delight her. She re- 
newed her youth; she escaped from the burdensome 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


"glories of our birth and state"; from that teasing 
"duty to our equals '' on which only the wisest preach- 
ers have ever laid sufficient stress ; and her one trouble 
was that the little masquerade must end. 

One other drawback indeed, one more blight upon a 
golden time, there was. Not even Marcella could make 
up her mind to transplant little Hallin, her only child, 
from Maxwell Court to East London. It was spring- 
time, and the woods about the Court were breaking 
into sheets of white and blue. Marcella must needs 
leave the boy to his flowers and his "grandame earth," 
sadly warned thereto by the cheeks of other little boys 
in and about the Mile End Road. But every Friday 
night she and Maxwell said good-bye to the two little 
workhouse girls, and the German charwoman, and the 
village boy from Mellor, who supplied them with all 
the service they wanted in Mile End, took with them 
the ancient maid who had been Marcella's mother's 
maid, and fled home to Brookshire. So on Saturday 
mornings it generally happened that little Hallin went 
out to inform his particular friend among the garden 
boys, that "Mummy had tum ome," and that he was 
not therefore so much his own master as usual. He ex- 
plained that he had to show mummy " eaps of things " 
— the two new kittens, the " edge-sparrer's nest," and 
the "ump they'd made in the churchyard over old 
Tom Collins from the parish ouses," the sore place 
on the pony's shoulder, the "ole that mummy's orse 
had kicked in the stable door," and a host of other 
curiosities. By way of linking the child with the 
soil and its people, Marcella had taken care to give 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


him nursemaids from the village. And the village 
being only some thirty miles from London, talked in 
the main the language of London, a language which 
it soon communicated to the tongue of Maxwell's heir. 
Marcella tried to school her boy in vain. Hallin chat- 
tered, laughed, broadened his a's and dropped all his 
h's into a bottomless limbo none the less. 

What days of joy those Saturdays were for mother 
and child ! All the morning and till about four o'clock, 
he and she would be inseparable, trailing about to- 
gether over field and wood, she one of the handsomest 
of women, he one of the plainest of children — a lit- 
tle square-faced chubby fellow, with eyes monstrously 
black and big, fat cheeks that hung a little over the 
firm chin, a sallow complexion, and a large humorous 

But in the late afternoon, alas ! Hallin was apt to 
find the world grow tiresome. For against all his 
advice " mummy " would allow herself to be clad by 
Annette, the maid, in a frock of state ; carriages would 
drive up from the 5.10 train; and presently in the 
lengthening evening the great lawns of the Court 
would be dotted with strolling groups, or the red draw- 
ing-room, with its Romneys and Gainsboroughs, would 
be filled with talk and laughter circling round mummy 
at the tea-table ; so that all that was left to Hallin was 
that seat on mummy's knee — his big, dark head 
pressed disconsolately against her breast, his thumb 
in his mouth for comfort — which no boy of any spirit 
would ever consent to occupy, so long as there was any 
chance of goading a slack companion into things better 
worth while. 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


Marcella herself was no less rebellious at heart, and 
would have asked nothing better than to be left free to 
spend her weekly holiday in roaming an April world 
with Hallin. But our country being what it is, the 
plans that are made in Mile End or Shoreditch have 
to be adopted by Mayfair or Mayf air's equivalent; 
otherwise they are apt to find an inglorious tomb in 
the portfolios that bred them. We have still, it seems, 
a " ruling class " ; and in spite of democracy it is still 
this " ruling class " that matters. Maxwell was per- 
fectly aware of it ; and these Sundays to him were the 
mere complements of the Mile End weekdays. Marcella 
ruefully admitted that English life was so, and she did 
her best. But on Monday mornings she was gener- 
ally left protesting in her inmost soul against half 
the women whom these peers and politicians, these 
administrators and journalists, brought with them, or 
wondering anxiously whether her particular share in 
the social effort just over might not have done Aldous 
more harm than good. She understood vaguely, with- 
out vanity, that she was a power in this English society, 
that she had many warm friends, especially among men 
of the finer and abler sort. But when a woman loved 
her, and insisted, as it were, on making her know it — 
and, after all, the experience was not a rare one — 
Marcella received the overture with a kind of grateful 
surprise. She was accustomed, without knowing why, 
to feel herself ill at ease with certain types of women ; 
even in her own house she was often aware of being 
furtively watched by hostile eyes ; or she found her- 
self suddenly the goal of some sharp little pleasantry 
that pricked like a stiletto. She supposed that she 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


was often forgetful and indiscreet. Perhaps the large 
court she held so easily on these occasions beneath the 
trees or in the great drawing-rooms of the old house 
had more to do with the matter. If so, she never 
guessed the riddle. In society she was conscious of 
one aim, and one aim only. Its very simplicity made 
other women incredulous, while it kept herself in the 

However, by dint of great pains, she had not yet 
done Aldous any harm that counted. During all the 
time of their East End sojourn, a Liberal govern- 
ment, embarrassed by large schemes it had not force 
enough to carry, was sinking towards inevitable col- 
lapse. When the crash came, a weak Conservative 
government, in which Aldous Maxwell occupied a 
prominent post, accepted office for a time without a 
dissolution. They came in on a cry of "industrial 
reform," and, by way of testing their own party and 
the country, adopted the Factory Bill for East Lon- 
don, which had now, by the common consent of all 
the workers upon it, passed into MaxwelPs hands. 
The Bill rent the party in twain; but the Ministry 
had the courage to go to the country with a pro- 
gramme in which the Maxwell Bill held a promi- 
nent place. Trade-unionism rallied to their support; 
the forces both of reaction and of progress fought for 
them, in strangely mingled ways ; and they were re- 
turned with a sufficient, though not large, majority. 
Lord Ardagh, the veteran leader of the party, became 
Premier. Maxwell was made President of the Coun- 
cil, while his old friend and associate, Henry Dowson, 
became Home Secretary, and thereby responsible for 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


the conduct of the long-expected Bill through the 

When Maxwell came back to her on the afternoon 
of his decisive interview with Lord Ardagh, she was 
waiting for him in that same inner room where Tres- 
sady paid his first visit. At the sound of her hus- 
band's step outside, she sprang up, and they met 
half-way, her hands clasped in his, against his breast, 
her face looking up at him. 

" Dear wife ! at last we have our chance — our real 
chance," he said to her. 

She clung to him, and there was a moment of high 
emotion, in which thoughts of the past and of the dead 
mingled with the natural ambition of two people in the 
prime of life and power. Then Maxwell laughed and 
drew a long breath. 

" The eggs have been all put into my basket in the 
most generous manner. We stand or fall by the Bill. 
But it will be a hard fight. '* 

And, in his acute, deliberate way, he began to sum 
up the forces against him — to speculate on the action 
of this group and that — Fontenoy's group first and 

Marcella listened, her beautiful hand pensive against 
her cheek, her eyes on his. Half trembling, she real- 
ised what failure, if after all failure should come, 
would mean to him. Something infinitely tender and 
maternal spoke in her, pledging her to the utmost help 
that love and a woman could give. 

Such for Maxwell and his wife had been the ante- 
cedents of a memorable session. 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


And now the session was here — was in full stream, 
indeed, rushing towards the main battle still to come. 
On the second night of Fontenoy's debate, Greorge 
Tressady duly caught the Speaker's eye, and made a 
very fair maiden speech, which earned him a good 
deal more praise, both from his party and the press, 
than he — in a disgusted mood — thought at all reason- 
able. He had misplaced half his notes, and, in his 
own opinion, made a mess of his main argument. He 
remarked to Fontenoy afterwards that he had better 
hang himself, and stalked home after the division 
pleased with one thing only — that he had not al- 
lowed Letty to come. 

In reality he had done nothing to mar the reputa- 
tion that was beginning to attach to him. Fontenoy 
was content; and the scantiness of the majority by 
which the Resolution was defeated served at once to 
make the prospects of the Maxwell Bill, which was 
to be brought in after Easter, more doubtful, and to 
sharpen the temper of its foes. 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


" Goodness ! — what an ugly place it is ! It wants 
five thousand spent on it at once to make it toler- 

The remark was Letty Tressady's. She was stand- 
ing disconsolate on the lawn at Ferth, scanning the 
old-fashioned house to which George had brought her 
just five days before. They had been married a fort- 
night, and were still to spend another week in the 
country before going back to London and to Parlia- 
ment. But already Letty had made up her mind that 
Ferth must be rebuilt and refurnished, or she could 
never endure it. 

She threw herself down on a garden seat with a 
sigh, still studying the house. It was a straight bar- 
rack-like building, very high for its breadth, erected 
early in the last century by an architect who, finding 
that he was to be allowed but a very scanty sum for 
his performance, determined with considerable strength 
of mind to spend all that he had for decoration upon 
the inside rather than the outside of his mansion. 
Accordingly the inside had charm — though even so 
much Letty could not now be got to confess ; panel- 
lings, mantelpieces, and doorways showed the work of 
a man of taste. But outside all that had been aimed 
at was the provision of a central block of building 


Digitized by VjOOQIC 


carried up to a considerable height so as to give the 
rooms demanded, while it economised in foundations 
and general space; an outer wall pierced with the 
plainest openings possible at regular intervals; a 
high-pitched roof to keep out the rain, whereof the 
original warm tiles had been long since replaced by 
the chilliest Welsh slates ; and two low and disfigur- 
ing wings which held the servants and the kitchens. 
The stucco with which the house had been originally 
covered had blackened under the influence of time, 
weather, and the smoke from the Tressady coalpits. 
Altogether, what with its pitchy colour, its mean 
windows, its factory-like plainness and height, Ferth 
Place had no doubt a cheerless and repellent air, which 
was increased by its immediate surroundings. For it 
stood on the very summit of a high hill, whereon the 
trees were few and windbeaten; while the carriage 
drives and the paths that climbed the hill were all 
of them a coaly black. The flower garden behind the 
house was small and neglected; neither shrubberies 
nor kitchen garden, nor the small park, had any char- 
acter or stateliness ; everything bore the stamp of by- 
gone possessors who had been rich neither in money 
nor in fancy; who had been quite content to live 
small lives in a small way. 

Ferth's new mistress thought bitterly of them, as 
she sat looking at their handiwork. What could be 
done with such a place ? How could she have Lon- 
don people to stay there? Why, their very maids 
would strike ! And, pray, what was a country house 
worth, without the usual country-house amenities and 
accessories ? 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


Yet she already began to feel fretted and hampered 
about money. The inside of the house had been to 
some extent renovated. She had helped George to 
choose papers and curtains for the rooms that were 
to be her special domain, while they were in London 
together before Easter. But she knew that George 
had at one time meant to do much more than had 
actually been done; and he had been in a mood of 
lover-like apology on the first day of their arrival. 
" Darling, I had hoped to buy you a hundred pretty 
things! — but times is bad — dreadful bad!'' he had 
said to her with a laugh. " We will do it by degrees 

— you won't mind ? " 

Then she had tried to make him tell her why it was 
that he had abandoned some of the schemes of im- 
provement that had certainly been in his mind during 
the first weeks of their engagement. But he had not 
been very communicative, and had put the blame 
mostly, as she understood him, on the " beastly pits " 
and the very low dividends they had been earning 
during the past six months. 

Letty, however, did not in the least believe that the 
comparatively pinched state of their finances, which, 
bride as she was, she was already brooding over, was 
wholly or even mainly due to the pits. She set her 
little white teeth in sudden anger as she said to her- 
self that it was not the pits — it was Lady Tressady ! 
George was crippled now because of the large sums 
his mother had not been ashamed to wring from him 
during the last six months. Letty — George's wife 

— was to go without comforts and conveniences, 
without the means of seeing her friends and taking 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


her proper position in the world, because George's 
mother — a ridiculous, painted old woman, who went 
in for flirtations and French gowns, when she ought 
to be subsiding quietly into caps and Bath chairs — 
would sponge upon his very moderate income, and 
take what did not belong to her. 

"I am certain there is something in the back- 
ground ! " said Letty to herself, as she sat looking at 
the ugly house — " something that she is ashamed of, 
and that she doesn't tell George. She couldn't spend 
all that money on dress ! I believe she is a wicked old 
woman — she has the most extraordinary creatures at 
her parties." 

The girl's delicate face stiffened vindictively as she 
fell brooding for the hundredth time over Lady Tres- 
sady's enormities. 

Then suddenly the garden door opened, and Letty, 
looking up, saw that George was on the threshold, 
waving his hand to her. He had left her that morn- 
ing — almost for the first time since their marriage — 
to go and see his principal agent and discuss the posi- 
tion of affairs. 

As he approached her, she noticed instantly that he 
was looking tired and ruffled. But the sight of her 
smoothed his brow. He threw himself down on the 
grass at her feet, and pressed his lips to the delicately 
tended hand that lay upon her lap. 

" Have you missed me, madame ? " he said, peremp- 

Preoccupied as she was, Letty must needs flush and 
smile, so well she knew from his eager eye that she 
pleased him, that he noticed the pretty gown she had 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


put on for luncheon, and that all the petting his ab- 
sence had withdrawn from her for an hour or two had 
come back to her. Other women — more or less of 
her type — had found his ways beguiling before now. 
He took courtship as an art, and had his own rooted 
ideas as to how women should be treated. Neither 
too gingerly nor too sentimentally — but, above all, 
with variety ! 

He repeated his question insistently; whereupon 
Letty said, with her pert brightness, thinking all the 
time of the house, "I^m not going to make you vain. 
Besides, I have been frightfully busy." 

" You're not going to make me vain ? But I choose 
to be vain. I'll go away for the whole afternoon if 
I'm not made vain this instant. Ah! that's better. 
Do you know that you have the softest little curl on 
your soft little neck, and that your hair has caught 
the sun on it this morning ? " 

Letty instinctively put up a hand to tuck away 
the curl. But he seized the hand. " Little vandal ! — 
What have you been busy with ? " 

"Oh! I have been over the house with Mrs. 
Matthews," said Letty, in another tone. "George, 
it's dreadful — the number of things that want do- 
ing. Do you know, positively, we could not put 
up more than two couples, if we tried ever so. 
And as for the state of the attics! Now do lis- 
ten, George ! " 

And, holding his hand tight in her eagerness, she 
went through a vehement catalogue of all that was 
wanted — new furniture, new decoration, new grates, 
a new hot-water system, the raising of the wings, and 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


SO on to the alteration of the stables and the replan- 
ning of the garden. She had no sooner begun upon 
her list than George's look of worry returned. He 
got up from the grass, and sat on the bench beside 

"Well, I'm sorry you dislike the place so much,'' 
he said, when her breath failed her, staring rather 
gloomily at his despised mansion. "Of course, it's 
quite true — it is an ugly hole. But the worst of it 
is, darling, I don't quite see how we're to do all this 
you talk about. I don't bring any good news from 
the pits, alas ! " 

He turned quickly towards her. The thought 
flashed through his mind — could he be justly charged 
with having married her on false pretences as to his 
affairs? No! There had been no misrepresentation 
of his income or his risks. Everything had been 
plainly and honestly stated to her father, and there- 
fore to her. Tor Letty knew all that she wanted to 
know, and had managed her family since she was a 

Letty flushed at his last words. 

"Do you mean to say," she said with emphasis, 
"that those men are really going to strike?" 

"I am afraid so. We must enforce a reduction, 
to avoid working at sheer loss, and the men vow 
they'll come out." 

"They want you to make them a present of the 
mines, I suppose! " said Letty, bitterly. "Why, the 
tales I hear of their extravagance and laziness! Mrs. 
Matthews says they'll have none but the best cuts of 
meat, that they all of them have an harmonium or a 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


piano in the house, that their houses are stuffed with 
furniture — and the amount of money they spend in 
betting on their dogs and their football matches is 
perfectly sickening. And now, I suppose they'll 
ruin themselves and us, rather than allow you to 
make a decent profit!" 

"That's about it," said George, flinging himself 
back on the bench. "That's about it." 

There was a pause of silence. The eyes of both 
were turned to the colliery village far below, at the 
foot of the hill. From this high stretch of garden 
one looked across the valley and its straggling line 
of houses, to the pits on the further hillside, 
the straight black line of the "bank," the pulley 
wheels, and tall chimneys against the sky. To the 
left, along the ascending valley, similar chimneys 
and " banks " were scattered at long intervals, while 
to the right the valley dipped in sharp wooded undu- 
lations to a blue plain bounded by far Welsh hills. 
The immediate neighbourhood of Ferth, for a coal 
country, had a woodland charm and wildness which 
often surprised a stranger. There were untouched 
copses, and little rivers and fern-covered hills, which 
still held their own against the ever-encroaching 
mounds of "spoil" thrown out by the mines. Only 
the villages were invariably ugly. They were the 
modern creations of the coal, and had therefore no 
history and no originality. Their monotonous rows 
of red cottages were like fragments from some dingy 
town suburb, and the brick meeting-houses in which 
they abounded did nothing to abate the general 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


This view from the Ferth hill was one which had 
great familiarity for Tressady, and yet no charm. 
As a boy he had had no love for his home and very 
few acquaintances in the village. His mother hated 
the place and the people. She had been married very 
young — for the sake of money and position — to his 
dull old father, who nevertheless managed to keep 
his flighty wife in order by dint of a dumb, continu- 
ous stubbornness and tyranny, which would have over- 
borne a stronger nature than Lady Tressady's, She 
was always struggling to get away from Ferth ; he to 
keep her tied there. He was never at ease away from 
his estate and his pits ; she felt herself ten years 
yoimger as soon as she had lost sight of the grim 
black house on its hilltop. 

And this one opinion of hers she was able to im- 
press upon her son — Greorge, too, was always glad to 
turn his back on Ferth and its people. The colliers 
seemed to him a brutal crew, given over to coarse 
sports, coarse pleasures, and an odious religion. As 
to their supposed grievances and hardships, his inti- 
mate conviction as a boy had always been that the 
miner got the utmost both out of his employers and 
out of society that he was worth. 

"Upon my word, I often think,'' he said at last, 
his inward reverie finding speech, "I often think it 
was a great pity my grandfather discovered the coal 
at all! In the long run I believe we should have 
done better without it. We should not at any rate 
have been bound up with these hordes, with whom 
you can no more reason than with so many blocks of 
th6ir own coalP' 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


Letty made no answer. She had turned back 
towards the house. Suddenly she said, with an en- 
ergy that startled him, 

"George, what are we to do with that place? It 
gives me a nightmare. The extraordinary thing is 
the way that everything in it has gone to ruin. 
Did your mother really live here while you were 

George's expression darkened. 

"I always used to suppose she was here," he said. 
"That was our bargain. But I begin to believe now 
that she was mostly in London. One can't wonder at 
it — she always hated the place." 

"Of course she was in London! " thought Letty to 
herself, "spending piles of money, running shame- 
fully into debt, and letting the house go to pieces. 
Why, the linen hasn't been darned for years ! " 

Aloud she said: 

" Mrs. Matthews says a charwoman and a little girl 
from the village used to be left alone in the house for 
months, to play any sort of games, with nobody to 
look after them — nobody — while you were away I" 

George looked at his wife — and then would only 
slip his arm round her for answer. 

"Darling! you don't know how I've been worried 
all the morning — don't let's make worry at home. 
After all it is rather nice to be here together, isn't 
it? — and we shall do — we sha'n't starve! Perhaps 
we shall pull through with the pits after all — it is 
difficult to believe the men will make such fools of 
themselves — and — well ! you know my angel mother 
<}a^'t always be swooping upon us as she has done 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


lately. Let's just be patient a little — very likely I 
can sell a few bits of land before long that will give 
us some money in hand — and then this small person 
shall bedizen herself and the house as much as she 
pleases. And meanwhile, madame ma femme, let me 
point out to you that your George never professed to 
be anything but a very bad match for you! " 

Letty remembered all his facts and figures per- 
fectly. Only somehow she had regarded them with 
the optimism natural to a girl who is determined to 
be married. She had promptly forgotten the adverse 
chances he had insisted upon, and she had converted 
all his averages into minima. No, she could not say 
she had not been warned; but nevertheless the result 
promised to be quite different from what she had 

However, with her husband's arm round her, it was 
not easy to maintain her ill-humour, and she yielded. 
They wandered on into the wood which fringed the 
hill on its further side, she coquetting, he courting 
and flattering her in a hundred ways. Her soft new 
dress, her dainty lightness and freshness, made har- 
mony in his senses with the April day, the building 
rooks, the breaths of sudden perfume from field and 
wood, the delicate green that was creeping over the 
copses, softening all the edges of the black scars left 
by the pits. The bridal illusion returned. George 
eagerly — hungrily — gave himself up to it. And 
Letty, though conscious all the while of a restless 
feeling at the back of her mind that they were losing 
time, must needs submit. 

However, when the luncheon gong had sounded and 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


they were strolling back to the house, he bethought 
himself, knit his brows again, and said to her: 

" Do you know, darling, Dalling told me this morn- 
ing '' — Dalling was the Tressadys' principal agent — 
" that he thought it would be a good thing if we could 
make friends with some of the people here? The 
Union are not — or were not — quite so strong in this 
valley as they are in some other parts. That's why 
that fellow Bewick — confound him ! — has come to 
live here of late. It might be possible to make some 
of the more intelligent fellows hear reason. My 
uncles have always managed the thing with a very 
high hand — very natural ! — the men are a set of 
rough, ungrateful brutes, who talk impossible stuff, 
and never remember anything that's done for them — 
but after all, if one has to make a living out of them, 
one may as well learn how to drive them, and what 
they want to be at. Suppose you come and show 
yourself in the village this afternoon?" 

Letty looked extremely doubtful. 

" I really don't get on very well with poor people, 
George. It's very dreadful, I know, but there ! — I'm 
not Lady Maxwell — and I can't help it. Of course, 
with the poor people at home in our own cottages it's 
different — they always curtsy and are very respectful 
— but Mrs. Matthews says the people here are so in- 
dependent, and think nothing of being rude to you if 
they don't like you." 

George laughed. 

" Go and call upon them in that dress and see ! I'll 
eat my hat if anybody's rude. Beside, I shall be 
there to protect you. We won't go, of course, to any 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


of the strong Union people. But there are two or 
three — an old nurse of mine I really used to be 
rather fond of — and a fireman that's a good sort — 
and one or two others. I believe it would amuse 

Letty was quite certain that it would not amuse her 
at all. However, she assented unwillingly, and they, 
went in to lunch. 

So in the afternoon the husband and wife sallied 
forth. Letty felt that she was being taken through 
an ordeal, and that George was rather foolish to wish 
it. However, she did her best to be cheerful, and to 
please George she still wore the pretty Paris frock of 
the morning, though it seemed to her absurd to be 
trailing it through a village street with only colliers 
and their wives to look at it. 

"What ill luck,'' said George, suddenly, as they 
descended their own hill, "that that fellow Bewick 
should have settled down here, in one's very pocket, 
like this!" 

"Yes, you had enough of him at Malford, didn't 
you? " said Letty. " I don't yet understand how he 
comes to be here." 

George explained that about the preceding Christ- 
mas there had been, temporarily, strong signs of 
decline in the Union strength of the Ferth district. 
A great many miners had quietly seceded; one of the 
periodical waves of suspicion as to funds and manage- 
ment to which all trade unions are liable had swept 
over the neighbourhood ; and wholesale desertion from 
the Union standard seemed likely. In hot haste the 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


Central Committee sent down Bewick as organising 
agent. The good fight he had made against Tressady 
at the Market Malford election had given him pres- 
tige; and he had both presence and speaking power. 
He had been four months at Ferth, speaking all over 
the district, and now, instead of leaving the Union, 
the men had been crowding into it, and were just as 
hot — so it was said — for a trial of strength with the 
masters as their comrades in other parts of the county. 

"And before Bewick has done with us, I should 
say he'll have cost the masters in this district hun- 
dreds of thousands. I call him dear at the money ! '' 
said George, finally, with a dismal cheerfulness. 

He was really full of Bewick, and of the general 
news of the district which his agent had been that 
morning pouring into his ear. But he had done his 
best not to talk about either at luncheon. Letty had 
a curious way of making the bearer of unpleasant tid- 
ings feel that it was somehow all his own fault that 
^ things should be so ; and George, even in this dawn 
of marriage, was beginning, half consciously, to rec- 
ognise two or three such peculiarities of hers. 

" What I cannot understand," said Letty, vigorously, 
" is why such people as Mr. Bewick are allowed to go 
about making the mischief he does." 

George laughed, but nevertheless repressed a sudden 
feeling of irritation. The inept remark of a pretty 
woman generally only amused him. But this Bewick 
matter was beginning to touch him home. 

" You see we happen to be a free country," he said 
drily, "and Bewick and his like happen to be run- 
ning us just now. Maxwell & Co. ai-e in the shafts — 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


Bewick sits up aloft and whips on the team. The 
extraordinary thing is that nothing personal makes 
any difference. The people here know perfectly well 
that Bewick drinks — that the woman he lives with 
is not his wife — " 

"George!" cried Letty, "how can you say such 
dreadful things!'' 

"Sorry, my darling! but the world is not a nice 
place. He picked her up somehow — they say she 
was a commercial traveller's wife — left on his hands 
at a country inn. Anyway she's not divorced, and 
the husband's alive. She looks like a walking skele- 
ton, and is probably going to die. Nevertheless they 
say Bewick adores her. And as for my resentments 
— don't be shocked — I'm inclined to like Bewick 
all the better for that little affair. But then I'm not 
pious, like the people here. However, they don't 
mind — and they don't mind the drink — and they 
believe he spends their money on magnificent dinners 
at hotels — and they don't mind that. They don't 
mini anything — they shout themselves hoarse when- 
ever Bewick speaks — they're as proud as Punch if 
he shakes hands with them — and then they tell the 
most gruesome tales of him behind his back, and like 
him all the better, apparently, for being a scoundrel. 
Queer but true. Well, here we are — now, darling, 
you may expect to be stared at ! " 

For they had entered on the village street, and 
Ferth Magna, by some quick freemasonry, had be- 
come suddenly conscious of the bride and bridegroom. 
Here and there a begrimed man in his shirt-sleeves 
would open his front door cautiously and look at 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


them; the children and womenkind stood boldly on 
the doorsteps and stared j while the people in the 
little shops ran back into the street, parcels and bas- 
kets in hand. The men working the morning shift 
had just come back from the pits, and their wives 
were preparing to wash their blackened lords, before 
the whole family sat down to tea. But both tea and 
ablutions were forgotten, so long as the owner of 
Ferth Place and the new Lady Tressady were in 
sight. The village eyes took note of everything; of 
the young man's immaculate serge suit and tan waist- 
coat, his thin, bronzed face and fair moustache ; of the 
bride's grey gown, the knot of airy pink at her throat, 
the coils of bright brown hair on which her hat was 
set, and the buckles on her pretty shoes; Then the 
village retreated within doors again; and each house 
buzzed and gossiped its fill. There had been a cer- 
tain amount of not very cordial response to George's 
salutations; but to Letty's thinking the women had 
eyed her with an unpleasant and rather hostile bold- 

"Mary Batchelor's house is down here," said 
George, turning into a side lane, not without a feel- 
ing of relief. "I hope we sha'n't find her out — no, 
there she is. You can't call these people affection- 
ate, can you?" 

They were close on a group of three brick cottages 
all close together. Their doors were all open. In 
one cottage a stout collier's wife was toiling through 
her wash. At the door of another the sewing-machine 
agent was waiting for his weekly paymeut; while on 
the threshold of the third stood an elderly tottering 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


woman shading her eyes from the light as she tried 
to make out the features of the approaching couple. 

"Why, Mary!" said Greorge, "you haven't forgot- 
ten me? I have brought my wife to see you." 

And he held out his hand with a boyish kindness. 

The old woman looked at them both in a bewildered 
way. Her face, with its long chin and powerful nose, 
was blanched and drawn, her grey hair straggling 
from under her worn black-ribboned cap; and her 
black dress had a neglected air, which drew George's 
attention. Mary Batchelor, so long as he remem- 
bered her, whether as his old nurse, or in later days 
as the Bible-woman of the village, had always been 
remarkable for a peculiar dignity and neatness. 

"Mary, is there anything wrong?" he asked her, 
holding her hand. 

"Coom yer ways in," said the old woman, grasping 
his arm, and taking no notice of Letty. " He's gone 
— he'll not f reeten nobody — he wor here three days 
afore they buried him. I could no let him go — but 
it's three weeks now sen they put him away." 

"Why, Mary, what is it? Not James! — not your 
son!" said George, letting her guide him into the 

"Aye, it's James — it's my son," she repeated 
drearily. "Will yer be takkin a cheer — an per- 
haps " — she looked round uncertainly, first at Letty, 
then at the wet floor where she had been feebly scrub- 
bing — "perhaps the leddy ull be sittin down. I'm 
nobbut in a muddle. But I don't seem to get forard 
wi my work a momins — not sen they put im away." 

And she dropped into a chair herself, with a long 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


sigh — forgetting her visitors apparently — her large 
and bony hands, scarred with their life's work, lying 
along her knees. 

George stood beside her silent a moment. 

" I hardly like to say I hadn't heard," he said at 
last, gently. "You'll think I otight to have heard. 
But I didn't know. I have been in town and very 

"Aye," said Mary, without looking up, "aye, an 
yer've been gettin married. I knew as yer didn't 
mean nothin onkind." 

Then she stopped again — till suddenly, with a fur- 
tive gesture, she raised her apron, and drew it across 
her eyes, which had the look of perennial tears. 

On the other side of the cottage meanwhile a boy 
of about fourteen was sitting. He had just done his 
afternoon's wash, and was resting himself by the 
fire, enjoying a thumbed football almanac. He had 
not risen when the visitors entered, and while his 
grandmother was speaking his lips still moved dumbly, 
as he went on adding up the football scores. He was 
a sickly, rather repulsive lad with a callous expression. 

" Let me wait outside, George," said Letty, hurriedly. 

Some instinct in her shrank from the poor mother 
and her story. But George begged her to stay, and 
she sat down nervously by the door, trying to protect 
her pretty skirt from the wet boards. 

"Will you tell me how it was ? " said George, sitting 
down himself in front of the bowed mother, and bend- 
ing towards her. " Was it in the pit ? Jamie wasn't 
one of our men, I know. Wasn't it for Mr. Morrison 
he worked ? " 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


Mrs. Batchelor made a sign of assent. Then she 
raised her head quickly, and a flash of some passion- 
ate convulsion passed through her face. 

"It wor John Burgess as done it/' she said, staring 
at George. " It wor him as took the boy's life. But 
he's gone himsel — so theer — I'll not say no more. 
It wor Jamie's first week o hewin — he'd been a 
loader this three year, an taken a turn at the hewin 
now an again — an five weeks sen John Burgess — 
he wor butty for Mr. Morrison, yer know, in the 
Owd Pit — took him on, an the lad wor arnin six an 
sixpence a day. An he wor that pleased yo cud see 
it shinin out ov im. And it wor on the Tuesday as he 
went on the afternoon shift. I saw im go, an he wor 
down'earted. An I fell a cryin as he went up the 
street, for I knew why he wor down'eai*ted, an I asked 
the Lord to elp him. And about six o'clock they come 
runnin — an they towd me there'd bin an accident, an 
they wor bringin im — an he wor alive — an I must 
bear up. They'd found him kneelin in hip place with 
his arm up, an the pick in it — just as the blast had 
took him — An his poor back — oh! my God — 
scorched off him — scorched off himJ* 

A shudder ran through her. But she recovered her- 
self and went on, still gazing intently at Tressady, her 
gaunt hand raised as though for attention. 

"An they braat him in, an they laid him on that 
settle" — she pointed to the bench by the fire — "an 
the doctors didn't interfere — there wor no wt to do — 
they left me alone wi un. But he come to, a minute 
after they laid im down — an I ses, ' Jamie, ow did it 
appen ' an he ses, * Mother, it wor John Burgess — ee 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


opened my lamp for to light hissen as had gone out — 
an I don't know no more.' An then after a bit he ses, 
'Mother, don't you fret — I'm glad I'm goin — I'd got 
the drink in me,' he ses. An then he give two three 
little breaths, as though he wor pantin — an I kiss him." 

She stopped, her face working, her trembling hands 
pressed hard against each other on her knee. Letty 
felt the tears leap to her eyes in a rush that startled 

" An he would a bin twenty-one year old, come next 
August — an alius a lad as yer couldn't help gettin 
fond on — not sen he were a little un. An when he 
wor layin there, I ses to myself, 'He's the third as 
the coal-gettin ha took from me.' An I minded my 
feyther an uncle — how they was braat home both 
togither, when I wor nobbut thirteen years old — not 
a scar on em, nobbut a little blood on my feyther's 
forehead — but stone dead, both on em — from the 
afterdamp. Theer was thirty-six men killed in that 
explosion — an I recolleck how old Mr. Morrison — 
Mr. Walter's father — sent the cofl&ns round — an how 
the men went on because they warn't good ones. Not 
a man would go down the pit till they was changed — 
if a man got the life choked out of im, they thowt 
the least the masters could do was to give un a dacent 
cofiin to lie in. But theer — nobody helped me wi 
Jamie — I buried him mysel — an it wor aU o the 

She dried her eyes again, sighing plaintively. 
George said what kind and consoling things he could 
think of. Mary Batchelor put up her hand and 
touched him on the arm as he leant over her. 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


" Aye, I knew yo'd be sorry — an yor wife — " 

She turned feebly towards Letty, trying with her 
blurred and tear-dimmed sight to make out what Sir 
George's bride might be like. She looked for a mo- 
ment at the small, elegant person in the comer, — 
at the sheaf of nodding rosebuds on the hat — the 
bracelets — the pink cheeks under the dainty veil, — 
looked with a curious aloofness, as though from a 
great distance. Then, evidently, another thought 
struck her like a lash. She ceased to see or think of 
Letty. Her grip tightened on George's arm. 

" An I'm alius thinkin," she said, with a passionate 
sob, "of that what he said about the drink. He'd 
alius bin a sober lad, till this lasst winter it did 
seem as though he cudna keep hisself from it — it kep 
creepin on im — an several times lately he'd broke 
out very bad, pay-days — an he knew I'd been f rettin. 
And who was ter blame — I ast yo, or onybody — who 
was it ter blame ? " 

Her voice rose to a kind of cry. 

" His f eyther died ov it, and his grandf eyther afore 
that. His grandfeyther wor found dead i the road- 
side, after they'd made him blind-drunk at owd 
Morse's public-house, where the butty wor reckonin 
with im an his mates. But he'd never ha gone near 
the drink if they'd hadn't druv him to't, for he wasn't 
inclined that way. But the butty as gave him work 
kep the public, an if yer didn't drink, yer didn't get 
no work. You must drink yoursel sick o Saturdays, 
or theer'd be no work for you o Mondays. * Noa, yer 
can sit at ome,' they'd say to un, ' ef yer so damned 
pertickler.' I ast yor pardon, sir, for the bad word. 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


but that's ow they'd say it. I've often heerd owd 
John say as he'd a been glad to ha given the butty back 
a shillin ov is pay to be let off the drink. An Willum, 
that's my usband, he wor alius at it too — an the 
doctor towd me one day, as Willum lay a^iyin, as it 
ran in the blood — an Jamie heard im — I know he 
did — for I f oun im on the stairs — listenin." 

She paused again, lost in a mist of incoherent mem- 
ories, the tears falling slowly. 

After a minute's silence, George said — not indeed 
knowing what to say — "We're very sorry for you, 
Mary — my wife and I — we wish we could do any- 
thing to help you. I am afraid it can't make any 
difference* to you — T expect it makes it all the worse 
— to think that accidents are so much fewer — that 
so much has been done. And yet times are mended, 
aren't they ? " 

Mary made no answer. 

George sat looking at her, conscious, as he seldom 
was, of raw youth and unreadiness — conscious, too, 
of Letty's presence in a strange, hindering way — as 
of something that both blunted emotion and made one 
rather ashamed to show it. 

He could only pursue the lame topic of improve- 
ment, of changed times. The disappearance of old 
abuses, of " butties " and " tommy-shops " ; the greater 
care for life ; the accident laws ; the inspectors. He 
found himself growing eloquent at last, yet all the 
time regarding himself, as it were, from a distance — 

Mary Batchelor listened to him for a while, her 
head bent with something of the submission of the 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


old servant, till something he said roused again the 
quick shudder, the look of anguished protest. 

" Aye, I dessay it's aw reet, Mr. George — I dessay 
it is — what yer say. The inspectors is very cliver — 
an the wages is paid proper. But theer — say what 
yer will ! IVe a son on the railway out Lichfield way 
— an he's alius taakin about is long hours — they're 
killing im, he says — an I alius ses to im, * Yer may 
jest thank the Lord, Harry, as yer not in the pits.' 
He never gets no pity out o me. An soomtimes I 
wakes in the morning, an I thinks o the men, cropin 
away in the dark — down theer — under me and my 
bed — for they do say the pits now runs right under 
Ferth village — an I think to mysel — how Jong will 
it be before yo poor fellers is laying like my Jim ? 
Yer may be reet about the accidents, Mr. George — 
but I knoWf ef yer wor to go fro house to house i this 
village — it would be like tis in the Bible — I've often 
thowt o them words — * Theer was not a house — no, 
nary one ! — where there was not one dead,^ " 

She hung her head again, muttering to herself. 
George made out with dif&culty that she was going 
through one phantom scene after another — of burn- 
ing, wounds, and sudden death. One or two of the 
phrases — of the fragmentary details that dropped 
out without name or place — made his flesh creep. 
He was afraid lest Letty should hear them, and was 
just putting out his hand for his hat, when Mrs. 
Batchelor gripped his arm again. Her face — so 
white and large-featured — had the gleam of some- 
thing like a miserable smile upon it. 

" Aye, an the men theirsels ud say jest as you do. 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


' Lor, Mrs. Batchelor/ they'd say, ^ why, the pits is as 
safe as a church ' — an they'd laff — Jamie ud laff at 
me times. But it's the women, Mr. George, as knows 
— it's the women that ave to wash the bodies." 

A great trembling ran through her again. George 
instinctively rose, and motioned to Letty to go. She 
too rose, but she did not go. She stood by the door, 
her wide grey eyes fixed with a kind of fascination 
on the speaker ; while behind her a ring of children 
could be seen in the street, staring at the pretty lady. 

Mary Batchelor saw nothing but Tressady, whom 
she was still holding by the arm — looking up to him. 

"Aye, but I didna disturb my Jamie, yer know. 
Noa ! — I left im i the owd coat they'd thrown over 
im i the pit — I dursn't ha touched is back. Noa, I 
dursnH. But I made his shroud mysen, an I put it 
ower his poor workin clothes, an I washed his face, 
an is hands an feet — an then I kissed him, an I said, 
'Jamie, yo mun go an tell the Lord as yo ha done your 
best, an He ha dealt hardly by you ! — an that's the 
treuth — He ha dealt hardly by yer ! ' " 

She gave a loud sob, and bowed her head on her 
hands a moment. Then, pushing back her grey locks 
from her face, she rose, struggling for composure. 

"Aye, aye, Mr. George — aye, aye, I'll not keep yer 
no longer." 

But as she took his hand, she added passionately : 

"An I towd the vicar I couldn't be Bible-woman 
no more. Theer's somethin broken in me sen Jamie 
died. I must keep things to mysen — I ain't got 
nuthin good to say to others — I'm alius grievin at 
the Lord. Good-bye to yer — good-bye to yer." 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


Her voice had grown absent, indifferent. But when 
George asked her, just as they were leaving the cot- 
tage, who was the boy sitting by the fire, her face 
darkened. She came hurriedly to the door with them, 
and said in George's ear : 

"He's my darter's child — my darter by my first 
usband. His feyther an mother are gone, an he come 
up from West Bromwich to live wi me. But he isn't 
no comfort to me. He don't take no notice of any- 
body. He set like that, with his football, when Jamie 
lay a-dyin. I'd as lief be shut on him. But theer — 
I've got to put up wi im." 

Letty meanwhile had approached the boy and looked 
at him curiously. 

" Do you work in the pits too ? " she asked him. 

The boy stared at her. 

" Yes," he said. 

"Do you like it?" 

He gave a rough laugh. 

"I reckon yo've got to like it," he said. And turn- 
ing his back on his questioner, he went back to his 

" Don't let us do any more visiting," said George, 
impatiently, as they emerged into the main street. 
"I'm out of love with the village. We*'ll do our 
blandishments another day. Let's go a little further 
up the valley and get away from the houses." 

Letty assented, and they walked along the village, 
she looking curiously into the open doors of the 
houses, by way of return for the inquisitive attention 
once more lavished upon herself and George. 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


"The houses are quite comfortable," she said 
presently. " And I looked into Mrs. Batchelor's back 
room while you were talking. It was just as Mrs. 
Matthews said — such good carpets and curtains, two 
chests of drawers, and an harmonium — and pictures 
— and flowers in the windows. George! what are' 

" ' Butties ' are sub-contractors," he said absently — 
"men who contract with the pit-owners to get the 
coal, either on a large or a small scale — now mostly 
on a small scale. They engage and pay the colliers 
in some pits, in others the owners deal direct." 

" And what is a ^ tommy-shop ' ? " 

"^ Tommy' is the local word for ' truck ' — paying 
in kind instead of in money. You see, the butties and 
the owners between them used to own the public-houses 
and the provision-shops, and the amount of coin of the 
realm the men got in wages in the bad old times was 
infinitesimal. They were expected to drink the butty's 
beer, and consume the butty's provisions — at the 
butty's prices, of course — and the butty kept the ac- 
counts. Oh ! it was an abomination ! but of course it 
was done away with long ago." 

" Of course it was ! " said Letty, indignantly. " They 
never remember what's done for them. Did you see 
what excellent teas there were laid out in some of the 
houses — and those girls with their hats smothered in 
feathers ? Why, I should never dream of wearing so 
many ! " 

She was once more her quick, shrewd self. All trace 
of the tears that had surprised her while Mary 
Batchelor was describing her son's death had passed 

VOL. I — N 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


away. Her half-malicious eyes glanced to right and 
left, peering into the secrets of the village. 

"And these are the people that talk of starving!" 
she said to George, scornfully, as they emerged into 
the open road. " Why, anyone can see — '' 
• George, suddenly returned from a reverie, under- 
stood what she was saying, and remarked, with an 
odd look : 

"You think their houses aren't so bad? One is 
always a little surprised — don't you think ? — when 
the poor are comfortable ? One takes it as something 
to one's own credit — I detect it in myseK scores of 
times. Well ! — one seems to say — they could have 
done without it — one might have kept it for oneseK 

— what a fine generous fellow I am ! " 
He laughed. 

" I didn't mean that at all," said Letty, protesting. 

"Didn't you? Well, after all, darling — you see, 
you don't have to live in those houses, nice as they 
are — and you don't have to do your own scrubbing. 
Ferth may be a vile hole, but I suppose you could put 
a score of these houses inside it — and I'm a pauper, 
but I can provide you with two housemaids. I say, 
why do you walk so far away from me ? " 

And in spite of her resistance, he took her hand, 
put it through his arm, and held it there. 

" Look at me, darling, " he said imperiously. " How 
can anyone spy upon us with these trees and high 
walls? I want to see how pretty and fresh you look 

— I want to forget that poor thing and her tale. Do 
you know that somewhere — far down in me — there's 
a sort of black pool — and when anything stirs it up 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


— for the moment I want to hang myself — the world 
seems such an awful place! It got stirred up just 
now — not while she was talking — but just as I 
looked back at that miserable old soul, standing at 
her door. She used to be such a jolly old thing — 
always happy in her Bible — and in Jamie, T suppose 

— quite sure that she was going to a nice heaven, and 
would only have to wait a little bit, till Jamie got 
there too. She seemed to know all about the Al- 
mighty's plans for herself and everybody else. Her 
drunken husband was dead; my father left her a bit 
of money, so did an old uncle, I believe. She'd 
gossip and pray and preach with anybody. And now 
she'll weep and pine like that till she dies — and she 
isn't sure even about heaven any more — and instead 
of Jamie, she's got that oafish lad, that changeling, 
hung round her neck — to kick her and ill-treat her 
in another year or two. Well ! and do you ever think 
that something like that has got to happen to all of 
us — something hideous — some torture — something 
that'll make us wish we'd never been born? Dar- 
ling, am I a mad sort of a fool? Stop here — in the 
shade — give me a kiss ! " 

And he made her pause at a shady corner in the 
road, between two oak copses on either hand — a 
river babbling at the foot of one of them. He put 
his arm round her, and stooping kissed her red lips 
with a kind of covetous passion. Then, still holding 
her, he looked out from the trees to the upper valley 
with its scattered villages, its chimneys and engine- 

"It struck me — what she said of the men under 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


our feet. They ^ re at it now, Letty, hewing and 
sweating. Why are they there, and you and I here? 
I'm precious glad, aren't you? But I'm not going to 
make believe that there's no difference. Don't let's 
be hypocrites, whatever we are." 

Letty was perplexed and a little troubled. He had 
only shown her this excitability once before — on that 
odd uncomfortable night when he made her sit with 
him on the Embankment. Whenever it came it 
seemed to upset her dominant impression of him. 
But yet it excited her too — it appealed to some- 
thing undeveloped — some yearning, protecting in- 
stinct which was new to her. 

She suddenly put up her hand and touched his hair. 

" You talk so oddly, George. I think sometimes " 
— she laughed with a pretty gaiety — "you'll go 
bodily over to Lady Maxwell and her 'set ' some day! " 

George made a contemptuous sound. 

"May the Lord preserve us from quacks," he said 
lightly. "One had better be a hypocrite. Look, 
little woman, there is a shower coming. Shall we 
turn home?" 

They walked home, chatting and laughing. At 
their own front door the butler handed George a 
telegram. He opened it and read: 

" Must come down to consult you on important busi- 
ness — shall arrive at Ferth about 9.30. — Amelia 

Letty, who was looking over George's shoulder, 
gave a little cry of dismay. 

Then, to avoid the butler's eyes and ears, they 
turned hurriedly into George's smoking-room which 
opened off the hall, and shut the door. 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


" George ! she has come to get more money out of 
you!" cried Letty, anger and annoyance written in 
every line of her little frowning face. 

" Well, darling, she can't get blood out of a stone I " 
said George, crushing the telegram in his hand and 
throwing it away. "It is a little too bad of my 
mother, I think, to spoil our honeymoon time like 
this. However, it can't be helped. Will you tell 
them to get her room ready?" 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


" NoW; my dear George ! I do think I may claim at 
least that you should remember I am your mother ! " — 
the speaker raised a fan from her knee, and used it 
with some vehemence. " Of course I can't help seeing 
that you don't treat me as you ought to do. I don't 
want to complain of Letty — I daresay she was taken 
by surprise — but all I can say as to her reception of 
me last night is, that it wasn't pretty — that's all ; it 
wasn't pretty. My room felt like an ice-house — Jus- 
tine tells me nobody has slept there for months — and 
no fire until just the moment I arrived; and — and no 
flowers on the dressing-table — no little attentions^ in 
fact. I can only say it was not what I am accustomed 
to. My feelings overcame me ; that poor dear Justine 
will tell you what a state she found me in. She cried 
herself, to see me so upset." 

Lady Tressady was sitting upright on the straight- 
backed sofa of George's smoking-room. George, who 
was walking up and down the room, thought, with 
discomfort, as he glanced at her from time to time, 
that she looked curiously old and dishevelled. She 
had thrown a piece of white lace round her head, 
in place of the more elaborate preparation for the 
world's gaze that she was wont to make. Her dress 
— a study in purples — had been a marvel, but was 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


now old, and even tattered; the ruffles at her wrist 
were tumbled; and the pencilling under her still 
fine eyes had been neglected. George, between his 
wife's dumb anger and his mother's folly, had passed 
through disagreeable times already since Lady Tres- 
sady's arrival, and was now once more endeavouring 
to get to the bottom of her affairs. 

" You forget, mother," he said, in answer to Lady 
Tressady's complaint, "that the house is not mounted 
for visitors, and that you gave us very short notice." 

Nevertheless he winced inwardly as he spoke at the 
thought of Letty's behaviour the night before. 

Lady Tressady bridled. 

" We will not discuss it, if you please," she said, • 
with an attempt at dignity. " I should have thought 
that you and Letty might have known I should not 
have broken in on your honeymoon without most 
pressing reasons. George ! " — her voice trembled, she 
put her lace handkerchief to her eyes — "I am an 
unfortunate and miserable woman, and if you — my 
own darling son — don't come to my rescue, I — I 
don't know what I may be driven to do ! " 

George took the remark calmly, having probably 
heard it before. He went on walking up and down. 

" It's no good, mother, dealing in generalities, I am 
afraid. You promised me this morning to come to 
business. If you will kindly tell me at once what is 
the matter, and what is the figure, I shall be obliged 
to you." 

Lady Tressady hesitated, the lace on her breast flut- 
tering. Then, in desperation, she confessed herself^ 
first reluctantly, then in a torrent. 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


During the last two years, then, she said, she had 
been trying her luck for the first time in — well, in 
speculation ! 

"Speculation!'' said George, looking at her in 
amazement. "In what?" 

Lady Tressady tried again to preserve her dignity. 
She had been investing, she said — trying to increase 
her income on the Stock Exchange. She had done it 
quite as much for George's sake as her own, that she 
might improve her position a little, and be less of a bur- 
den upon him. Everybody did it ! Several of her best 
women-friends were as clever at it as any man, and often 
doubled their allowances for the year. She, of course, 
had done it under the best advice. George knew that 
she had friends in the City who would do anything — 
positively anything — for her. But somehow — 

Then her tone dropped. Her foot in its French shoe 
began to fidget on the stool before her. 

Somehow, she had got into the hands of a reptile — 
there ! No other word described the creature in the 
least — a sort of financial agent, who had treated her 
unspeakably, disgracefully. She had trusted him im- 
plicitly, and the result was that she now owed the 
reptile who, on the strength of her name, her son, and 
her aristocratic connections, had advanced her money 
for these adventures, a sum — 

" Well, the truth is I am afraid to say what it is," 
said Lady Tressady, allowing herself for once a cry of 
nature, and again raising a shaky hand to her eyes. 

"How much?" said George, standing over her, 
cigarette in hand. 

"Well — four thousand pounds!" said Lady Tres- 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


sady, her eyes blinking involuntarily as she looked up 
at him. 

^^ Four thoiisand pounds I" exclaimed George. "Pre- 
posterous ! " 

And, raising his hand, he flung his cigarette violently 
into the fire and resumed his walk, hands thrust into* 
his pockets. 

Lady Tressady looked tearfully at his long, slim 
figure as he walked away, conscious, however, even at 
this agitated moment, of the quick thought that he had 
inherited some of her elegance. 


" Yes — wait a moment — mother '' — he faced round 
upon her decidedly. " Let me tell you at once, that at 
the present moment it is quite impossible for me to 
find that sum of money.'' 

Lady Tressady flushed passionately like a thwarted 

"Very well, then," she said — " very well. Then it 
will be bankruptcy — and I hope you and Letty will 
like the scandal!" 

" So he threatens bankruptcy ? " 

" Do you think I should have come down here ex- 
cept for something like that ? " she cried. " Look at 
his letters ! " 

And she took a tumbled roll out of the bag on her 
arm and gave it to him. George threw himself into 
a chair, and tried to get some idea of the correspond- 
ence; while Lady Tressady kept up a stream of 
plaintive chatter he could only endeavour not to 

As far as he could judge on a first inspection, the 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 

186 ^^^ GEORGE TRE88ADY 

papers concerned a long series of risky transactions, 
— financial gambling of the most pronounced sort, — 
whereof the few gains had been long since buried 
deep in scandalous losses. The outrageous folly of 
some of the ventures and the magnitude of the sums 
involved made him curse inwardly. It was the first 
escapade of the kind he could remember in his 
mother's history, and, given her character, he could 
only regard it as adding a new and real danger to his 
life and Letty's. 

Then another consideration struck him. 

"How on earth did you come to know so much 
about the ins and outs of Stock Exchange business," 
he asked her suddenly, with surprise, in the midst of 
his reading. "You never confided in me. I never 
supposed you took an interest in such things.'' 

In truth, he would have supposed her mentally in- 
capable of the kind of gambling finance these papers 
bore witness of. She had never been known to do 
a sum or present an account correctly in her life ; and 
he had often, in his own mind, accepted her density 
in these directions as a certain excuse for her debts. 
Yet this correspondence showed here and there a 
degree of financial legerdemain of which any City 
swindler might have been proud — so far, at least, as 
he could judge from his hasty survey. 

Lady Tressady drew herself up sharply in answer 
to his remark, though not without a flutter of the 
eyelids which caught his attention. 

"Of course, my dear George, I always knew you 
thought your mother a fool. As a matter of fact, all 
my friends tell me that I have a very clear head." 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


George could not restrain himself from laughing 

"In face of this?" he said, holding up the final 
batch of letters, which contained Mr. Shapetsky's 
last formidable account; various imperious missives 
from a "sharp-practice" solicitor, whose name hap- 
pened to be disreputably known to George Tressady ; 
together with repeated and most explicit assurances 
on the part both of agent and lawyer, that if arrange- 
ments were not made at once by Lady Tressady for 
meeting at least half Mr. Shapetsky's bill — which 
had now been running some eighteen months — and 
securing the other half, legal steps would be taken 

Lady Tressady at first met her son's sarcasm in 
angry silence, then broke into shrill denunciation of 
Shapetsky's "villanies." How could decent people, 
people in society, protect themselves against such 
creatures ! 

George walked to the window, and stood looking 
out into the April garden. Presently he turned, and 
interrupted his mother. 

"I notice, mother, that these transactions have 
been going on for nearly two years. Do you remem- 
ber, when I gave you that large sum at Christmas, 
you said it would 'all but' clear you; and when I 
gave you another large simi last month, you professed 
to be entirely cleared? Yet all the time you were re- 
ceiving these letters, and you owed this fellow almost 
as much as you do now. Do you think it was worth 
while to mislead me in that way ? " 

He stood leaning against the window, his fingers 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


drumming on the sill. The contrast between the 
youth of the figure and the absence of youth in face 
and voice was curious. Perhaps Lady Tressady felt 
vaguely that he looked like a boy and spoke like a 
master, for her pride rose. 

"You have no right to speak to me like that, 
George! I did everything for the best. I always 
do everything for the best. It is my misfortune to 
be so — so confiding, so hopeful. I must always 
believe in someone — that's what makes my friends 
so extremely fond of me. You and your poor darling 
father were never the least like me — '' And she 
went off into a tearful comparison between her own 
character and the characters of her husband and son 
— in which of course it was not she that suffered. 

George did not heed her. He was once more star- 
ing out of window, thinking hard. So far as he could 
see, the money, or the greater part of it, would have 
to be found. The man, of course, was a scoundrel, but 
of the sort that keeps within the law ; and Lady Tres- 
sady's monstrous folly had given him an easy prey. 
When he thought of the many sacrifices he had made 
for his mother, of her ample allowance, her incorrigible 
vanity and greed — and then of the natural desires of 
his young wife — his heart burned within him. 

"Well, I can only tell you,'' he said at last, turning 
round upon her, " that I see no way out. How is that 
man's claim to be met? I don't know. Even if I 
coiiM meet it — which I see no chance of doing — by 
crippling myself for some time, how should I be at 
liberty to do it ? My wife and her needs have now 
the first claim upon me.'* 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


" Very well," said Lady Tressady, proudly, raising 
her handkerchief, however, to hide her trembling lips. 

" Let me remind you," he continued^ ceremoniously, 
" that the whole of this place is in bad condition, except 
the few rooms we have just done up, and that money 
must be spent upon it — it is only fair to Letty that it 
should be spent. Let me remind you also, that you 
are a good deal responsible for this state of things." 

Lady Tressady moved uneasily. George was now 
speaking in his usual half-nonchalant tone, and he had 
provided himself with another cigarette. But his eye 
held her. 

"You will remember that you promised me while 
I was abroad to live here and look after the house. I 
arranged money affairs with you, and other affairs, 
upon that basis. But it appears that during the four 
years I was away you were here altogether, at different 
times, about three months. Yet you made me believe 
you were here ; if I remember right, you dated your 
letters from here. And of course, in four years, an 
old house that is totally neglected goes to the bad." 

" Who has been telling you such falsehoods ? " cried 
Lady Tressady. " I was here a great deal more than 
that — a great deal more ! " 

But the scarlet colour, do what she would, was dye- 
ing her still delicate skin, and her eyes alternately 
obstinate and shuflEling, tried to take themselves out 
of the range of George's. 

As for George, as he stood there coolly smoking, he 
was struck — or, rather, the critical mind in him was 
struck — by a sudden perception of the meanness of 
aspect which sordid cares of the kind his mother was 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


now plunged in can give to the human face. He felt 
the rise of a familiar disgust. How many scenes of 
ugly battle over money matters could he not remem- 
ber in his boyhood between his father and mother! 
And later — in India — what things he had known 
women do for money or dress! He thought scorn- 
fully of a certain intriguing lady of his acquaintance 
at Madras — who had borrowed money of him — to 
whom he had given ball-dresses; and of another, 
whose selfish extravagance had ruined one of the best 
of men. Did all women tend to be of this make, how- 
ever poetic might be their outward seeming ? 

Aloud, he said quietly, in answer to his mothier's 
protest : 

"I think you will find that is about accurate. I 
mention it merely to show you how it is that I find 
myself now plunged in so many expenses. And, now, 
doesn't it strike you as a little hard that I should be 
called upon to strip and cripple myself still further — 
not to give my wife the comforts and conveniences I 
long to give her, but to pay such debts as those ? " 

Involuntarily he struck his hand on the papers 
lying in the chair where he had been sitting. 

Lady Tressady, too, rose from her seat. 

" George, if you are going to be violent towards your 
mother, I had better go," she said, with an attempt at 
dignity. "I suppose Letty has been gossiping with 
her servants about me. Oh ! I knew what to expect ! " 
cried Lady Tressady, gathering up fan and handker- 
chief from the sofa behind her with a hand that shook. 
" I always said from the beginning that she would set 
you against me ! She has never treated me as — as a 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


daughter — never! And that is my weakness — I 
must be cared for — I must be treated with — with 

" I wouldn't give way, mother, if I were you,'' said 
George, quite unmoved by the show of tears. "I 
think, if you will reflect upon it, that it is Letty and 
I who have the most cause to give way. If you will 
allow me, I will go and have a talk with her. I be- 
lieve she is sitting in the garden." 

His mother turned sullenly away from him, and he 
left the room. 

As he passed through the long oak-panelled hall that 
led to the garden, he was seized with an odd sense of 
pity for himself. This odious scene behind him, and 
now this wrestle with Letty that must be gone through 
— were these the joys of the honeymoon ? 

Letty was not in the garden. But as he passed 
into the wood on the farther side of the hill he 
saw her sitting under a tree halfway down the slope, 
with some embroidery in her hand. The April sun 
was shining into the wood. A larch beyond Letty 
was already green, and the twigs of the oak beneath 
which she sat made a reddish glow in the bright 
air. Patches of primroses and anemones starred the 
ground about her, and trails of periwinkle touched 
her dress. She was stooping, and her little hand 
went rapidly — impatiently — to and fro. 

The contrast between this fresh youth amid the 
spring and that unlovely, reluctant age he had just 
left behind him in the smoking-room struck him 
sharply. His brow cleared. 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


As she heard his step she looked round eagerly. 
" Well ? " she said, pushing aside her work. 

He threw himself down beside her. 

"Darling, I have had my talk. It is pretty bad 
— worse than we had even imagined!" 

Then he told her his mother's story. She could 
hardly contain herself, as she listened, as he men- 
tioned the total figure of the debts. It was evi- 
dently with difficulty that she prevented herself 
from interrupting him at every word. And when he 
had barely finished she broke out : 

" And what did you say ? '' 

George hesitated. 

" I told her, of course, that it was monstrous and 
absurd to expect that we could pay such a sum." 

Letty's breath came fast. His voice and manner 
did not satisfy her at all. 

"Monstrous? I should think it was! Do you 
know how she has run up this debt?" 

George looked at her in surprise. Her little face 
was quivering under the suppressed energy of what 
she was going to say. 

"No!— do you?" 

"Yes! — I know all about it. I said to my maid 
last night — I hope, George, you won't mind, but you 
know Grier has been an age with me, and knows all 
my secrets — ^^I told her she must make friends with 
your mother's maid, and see what she could find out. 
I felt we must, in self-defence. And of course Grier 
got it all out of Justine. I knew she would ! Jus- 
tine is a little fool; and she doesn't mean to stay 
much longer with Lady Tressady, so she didn't mind 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


speaking. It is exactly as I supposed! Lady Tres- 
sady didn't begin speculating for herself at all — 
but for — somebody — else! Do you remember that 
absurd-looking singer who gave a * musical sketch' 
one day that your mother gave a party in Eccleston 
Square — in February ? " 

She looked at him with eagerness, an ugly, half- 
shrinking innuendo in her expression. 

George had suddenly moved away, and was sitting 
now some little distance from his wife, his eyes bent 
on the ground. However, at her question he made 
a sign of assent. 

"You do remember? Well," said Letty, trium- 
phantly, "it is he who is at the bottom of it all. I 
knew there must be somebody. It appears that he 
has been getting money out of her for years — that 
he used to come and spend hours, when she had that 
little house in Bruton Street, when you were away — 
I don't believe you ever heard of it — flattering her, 
and toadying her, paying her compliments on her 
dress and her appearance, fetching and carrying for 
her — and of course living upon her ! He used to ar- 
range all her parties. Justine says that he used even 
to make her order all his favourite wines — such bills 
as there used to be for wine ! He has a wife and chil- 
dren somewhere, and of course the whole family lived 
upon your mother. It was he made her begin specu- 
lating. Justine says he has lost all he ever had 
himself that way, and your mother couldn't, in fact, 
*Zend' him" — Letty laughed scornfully — "money 
fast enough. It was he brought her across that 
odious creature Shapetsky — isn't that his name ? 

VOL/ I — O 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


And that's the whole story. If there have been any 
gains, he has made off with them — leaving her, of 
course, to get out of the rest. Justine says that for 
months there was nothing but business, as she calls 
it, talked in the house — and she knew, for she used 
to help wait at dinner. And such a crew of people as 
used to be about the place ! " 

She looked at him, struck at last by his silence and 
his attitude, or pausing for some comment, some appre- 
ciation of her cleverness in ferreting it all out. 

But he did not speak, and she was puzzled. The 
angry triumph in her eyes faltered. She put out her 
hand and touched him on the arm. 

"What is it, George? I thought — it would be 
more satisfactory to us both to know the truth.'' 

He looked up quickly. 

" And all this your maid got out of Justine ? You 
asked her ? " 

She was struck, offended, by his expression. It was 
so*cool and strange — even, she could have imagined, 

" Yes, I did," she said passionately. " I thought I 
was quite justified. We must protect ourselves." 

He was silent again. 

" I think," he said at last, drily, she watching him — 
" I think we will keep Justine and Grier out of it, if 
you please." 

She took her work, and laid it down again, her 
mouth trembling. 

" So you had rather be deceived ? " 

" I had rather be deceived than listen behind doors,** 
he said, beginning in a light tone, which, however. 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


passed immediately into one of bitterness. " Besides, 
there is nothing new. For people like my mother 
there is always some adventurer or adventuress in the 
background — there always used to be in old days. 
She never meant any serious harm; she was first 
plundered, then we. My father used to be for ever 
turning some impostor or other out of doors. Now I 
suppose it is my turn." 

This time it was Letty who kept silence. Her 
needle passed rapidly to and fro. George glanced at 
her queerly. Then he rose and came to stand near 
her, leaning against the tree. 

"You know, Letty, we shall have to pay that 
money," he said suddenly, pulling at his moustache. 

Letty made an exclamation under her breath, but 
went on working faster than before. 

He slipped down to the moss beside her, and caught 
her hand. 

" Are you angry with me ? " 

"If you insult me by accusing me of listening 
behind doors you can't wonder," said Letty, snatching 
her hand away, her breast heaving. 

He felt a bitter inclination to laugh, buf he re- 
strained it, and did his best to make peace. In the 
midst of his propitiations Letty turned upon him. 

" Of course, I know you think I did it all for selfish- 
ness," she said, half crying, "because I want new 
furniture and new dresses. I don't ; I want to protect 
you from being — being — plundered like this. How 
can you do what you ought as a member of Parliament ? 
how can we ever keep ourselves out of debt if — if — ? 
How can you pay this money ? " she wound up, her 
eyes flaming. 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


" Well, you know," he said, hesitating — " you know 
I suggested yesterday we should sell some land to do 
up the house. I am afraid we must sell the land, and 
pay this scoundrel — a proportion, at all events. Of 
course, what I should like to do would be to put him — 
and the other — to instant death, with appropriate 
tortures ! Short of that, I can only take the matter 
out of my mother's hands, get a sharp solicitor on my 
side to match his rascal, and make the best bargain 
I can." 

Letty rolled up her work with energy, two tears of 
■anger on her cheeks. " She otight to suffer ! " she cried, 
her voice trembling — " she oiight to suffer ! " 

" You mean that we ought to let her be made a bank- 
rupt ? " he said coolly. " Well, no doubt it would be 
salutary. Only, I am afraid it would be rather more 
disagreeable to us than to her. Suppose we consider 
the situation. Two young married people — charming 
house — charming wife — husband just beginning in 
politics — people inclined to be friends. Then you go 
to dine with them in Brook Street — excellent little 
French dinner — bride bewitching. Next morning you 
see the bankruptcy of the host's mamma in the 
* Times.' 'And he's the only son, isn't he? — he 
must be well off. They say she's been dreadfully 
extravagant. But, hang it ! you know, a man's mother ! 
— and a widow — no, I can't stand that. Sha'n't dine 
with them again ! ' There ! do you see, darling ? Do 
you really want to rub all the bloom off the peach ? " 

He had hardly finished his little speech before the 
odiousness of it struck himself. 

" Am I come to talking to her like this 9 " he asked 
himself in a kind of astonishment. 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


But Letty, apparently, was not astonished. 

"Everybody would understand if you refused to 
ruin yourself by going on paying these frightful debts. 
I am sure something could be done/' she said, half 

Greorge shook his head. 

" But everybody wouldn't want to understand. The 
dear world loves a scandal — doesn't really like being 
amiable to newcomers at all. You would make a bad 
start, dear — and all the world would pity mamma." 

" Oh ! if you are only thinking what people would 
say," cried Letty. 

"No," said George, reflectively, but with a mild 
change of tone. " Damn people 1 I can pull myself 
to pieces so much better than they can. You see, dar- 
ling, you're such an optimist. Now, if you'd only just 
believe, as I do, that the world is a radically bad place, 
you wouldn't be so surprised when things of this sort 
happen. Eh, little person, has it been a radically bad 
place this last fortnight ? " 

He laid his cheek against her shoulder, rubbing it 
gently up and down. But something hard and scorn- 
ful lay behind his caress — something he did not mean 
to inquire into. 

"Then you told your mother," said Letty, after a 
pause, still looking straight before her, "that you 
would clear her ? " 

" Not at all. I said we could do nothing. I laid it 
on about the house. And all the time I knew per- 
fectly well in my protesting soul, that if this man's 
claim is sustainable we should have to pay up. And 
I imagine that mamma knew it too. You can get out 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


of anybody's debts but your mother's — that's appar- 
ently what it comes to. Queer thing, civilisation! 
Well now'' — he sprang to his feet — "let's go and 
get it over." 

Letty also rose. 

" I can't see her again," she said quickly. '^I sha'n't 
come down to lunch. Will she go by the three-o'clock 
train ? " 

" I will arrange it," said George. 

They walked through the wood together silently. 
As they came in sight of the house Letty's face 
quivered again with restrained passion — or tears. 
George, whose sangfroid was never disturbed out- 
wardly for long, had by now resigned himself, and 
had, moreover, recovered that tolerance of woman's 
various weaknesses which was in him the fruit of a 
wide, and at bottom hostile, induction. He set him- 
self to cheer her up. Perhaps, after all, if he could 
sell a particular piece of land which he owned near a 
neighbouring large town, and sell it well, — he had 
had offers for it before, — he might be able to clear his 
mother, and still let Letty work her will on the house. 
She mustn't take a gloomy view of things — he would 
do his best. So that by the time they got into the 
drawing-room she had let her hand slip doubtfully 
into his again for a moment. 

But nothing would induce her to appear at lunch. 
Lady Tressady, having handed over all Shapetsky's 
papers and all her responsibilities to George, grar 
ciously told him that she could understand Letty's 
annoyance, and didn't wish for a moment to intrude 
upon her. She then called on Justine to curl her 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


hair, put on a blue shot silk with marvellous pink 
fronts just arrived from Paris, and came down to 
lunch with her son in her most smiling mood. She 
took no notice of his monosyllables, and in the hall, 
while the butler discreetly retired, she kissed him 
with tears, saying that she had always known his 
generosity would come to the rescue of his poor 
darling mamma. 

" You will oblige me, mother, by not trying it again 
too soon," was George's ironical reply as he put her 
into the carriage. 

In the afternoon Letty was languid and depressed. 
She would not talk on general topics, and George 
shrank in nervous disgust from reopening the subjects 
of the morning. Finally, she chose to be tucked up 
on the sofa with a novel, and gave George free leave 
to go out. 

It surprised him to find as he walked quickly down 
the hill, delighting in the April sun, that he was glad 
to be alone. But he did not in the least try to fling 
the thought away from him, as many a lover would 
have done. The events, the feelings of the day, had 
been alike jarring and hateful f he meant to escape 
from them. 

But he could not escape from them all at once. A 
fresh and unexpected debt of somewhere about four 
thousand pounds does not sit lightly on a compara- 
tively poor man. In spite of his philosophy for 
Letty's benefit, he must needs harass himself anew 
about his money affairs, planning and reckoning. 
How many more such surprises would his mother 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


spring upon him — and how was he to control her? 
He realised now something of the life-long burden 
his dull old father had borne — a burden which the 
absences of school, college, and travel had hitherto 
spared himself. What was he to appeal to in her ? 
There seemed to be nothing — neither will nor con- 
science. She was like the women without backs in 
the fairy-tale. 

Then, with one breath he said to himself that he 
must kick out that singer-fellow, and with the next, 
that he would not touch any of his mother's crew 
with a barge-pole. Though he never pleaded ideals 
in public, he had been all his life something of a 
moral epicure, taking "moral" as relating rather to 
manners than to deeper things. He had done his best 
not to soil himself by contact with certain types — 
among men especially. Of women he was less critical 
and less observant. 

As to this ugly feud opening between his mother 
and his wife, it had quite ceased to amuse him. Now 
that his marriage was a reality, the daily corrosion of 
such a thing was becoming plain. And who was there 
in the world to bear the brunt of it but he ? He saw 
himself between the two — eternally trying to make 
peace — and his face lengthened. 

And if Letty would only leave the thing to him ! — 
would only keep her little white self out of it ! He 
wished he could get her to send away that woman 
Grier — a forward second-rate creature, much too 
ready to meddle in what did not concern her. 

Then, with a shake of his thin shoulders, he pas- 
sionately drove it all out of his thoughts. 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


Let him go to the village, sound the feeling there if 
he could, and do his employer's business. His troubles 
as a pit-owner seemed likely to be bad enough, but 
they did not canker one like domestic miseries. They 
were a man's natural affairs; to think of them came 
as a relief to him. 

He had but a disappointing round, however. 

In the first place he went to look up some of the 
older "hewers," men who had been for years in the 
employ of the Tressadys. Two or three of them had 
just come back from the early shift, and their wives, 
at any rate, were pleased and flattered by George's 
call. But the men sat like stocks and stones while he 
talked. Scarcely a word could be got out of them, 
and George felt himself in an atmosphere of storm, 
guessing at dangers, everywhere present, though not 
yet let loose — like the foul gases in the pits under 
his feet. 

He behaved with a good deal of dignity, stifling his 
pride here and there sufficiently to talk simply and 
well of the general state of trade, the conditions of 
the coal industry in the West Mercian district, the 
position of the masters, the published accounts of one 
or two large companies in the district, and so on. But 
in the end he only felt his own anger rising in answer 
to the sullenness of the men. Their sallow faces and 
eyes weakened by long years of the pit expressed 
little — but what there was spelt war. 

Kor did his visits to what might be called his own 
side give him much more satisfaction. 

One man, a brawny "fireman," whom George had 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


been long taught to regard as one of the props of law 
and order in the district, was effusively and honestly 
glad to see his employer. His wife hurried the tea, 
and George drank and ate as heartily as his own 
luncheon would let him in company with Macgregor 
and his very neat and smiling family. Nothing could 
be more satisfactory than Macgregor's general denun- 
ciations of the Union and its agent. Bewick, in his 
opinion, was a "drunken, low-livin scoundrel," who 
got his bread by making mischief; the Union was 
entering upon a great mistake in resisting the masters' 
proposals; and if it weren't for the public-house and 
idleness there wasn't a man in Ferth that couldn't 
live wdl, ten per cent, reduction and all considered. 
Nevertheless, he did not conceal his belief that battle 
was approaching, and would break out, if not now, at 
any rate in the late summer or autumn. Times, too, 
were going to be specially bad for the non-society 
men. The membership of the Union had been run- 
ning up fast; there had been a row that very morning 
at the pit where he worked, the Union men refusing 
to go down in the same cage with the blacklegs. He 
and his mates would have to put their backs into it. 
Never fear but they would ! Bullying might be trusted 
only to make them the more " orkard." 

Nothing could have been more soothing than such 
talk to the average employer in search of congenial 
opinions. But George was not the average employer, 
and the fastidious element in him began soon to make 
him uncomfortable. Sobriety is, no doubt, admirable, 
but he had no sooner detected a teetotal cant in his 
companion than that particular axiom ceased to matter 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


to him. And to think poorly of Bewick might be a 
salutary feature in a man's character, but it should be 
for some respectable reason. George fidgeted on his 
chair while Macgregor told the usual cock-and-bull 
stories of monstrous hotel-bills seen sticking out of 
Bewick's tail-pockets, and there deciphered by a gap- 
ing populace; and his mental discomfort reached its 
climax when Macgregor wound up with the remark : 

"And thaty Sir George, is where the money goes 
to! — not to the poor starving women and children, 
I can tell yer, whose husbands are keepin him in 
luxury. I've always said it. Whereas the accounts? 
I've never seen no balance-sheet — never!'' he re- 
peated solemnly. " They do say as there's one to be 
seen at the 4odge' — " 

"Why, of course there is, Macgregor," said George, 
with a nervous laugh, as he got up to depart; "all the 
big Unions publish their accounts." 

The fireman's obstinate mouth and stubbly hair only 
expressed a more pronounced scepticism. 

" Well, I shouldn't believe in em," he said, " if they 
did. I've niver seen a balance-sheet, and I don't sup- 
pose I ever shall. Well, good-bye to you. Sir George, 
and thank you kindly. Yo take my word, sir, if it 
weren't for the public-house the men could afford to 
lose a trifle now and again to let the masters make 
their fair profit ! " 

And he looked behind him complacently at his neat 
cottage and well-clothed children. 

But George walked away, impatient. 

" His wages won't go down, anyway," he said to him- 
self — for the wages of the "firemen," whose work 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


is of the nature of superintendence, hardly vary with 
the state of trade. " And what suspicious idiocy about 
the accounts ! " 

His last visit was the least fortunate of any. The 
fireman in question, Mark Dowse, Macgregor's chief 
rival in the village, was a keen Radical, and George 
found him chuckling over his newspaper, and the de- 
feat of the Tory candidate in a recently decided County 
Council election. He received his visitor with a sur- 
prise which George thought not untinged with inso- 
lence. Some political talk followed, in which Dowse's 
Yorkshire wit scored more than once at his employer's 
expense. Dowse, indeed, let himself go. He was on 
the point of taking the examination for an under-man- 
ager's certificate and leaving the valley. Hence there 
were no strong reasons for servility, and he might talk 
as he pleased to a young " swell " who had sold him- 
self to reaction. George lost his temper somewhat, 
was furiously ashamed of himself, and could only 
think of getting out of the man's company with 

He was by no means clear, however, as he walked 
away from the cottage, that he had succeeded in doing 
so. What was the good of trying to make friends with 
these fellows ? Neither in agreement nor in opposition 
had he any common ground with them. Other people 
might have the gifts for managing them; it seemed 
to him that it would be better for him to take up the 
line at once that he had none. Fontenoy was right. 
Nothing but a state of enmity was possible — veiled 
enmity at some times, open at others. 

What were those voices on the slope above him ? 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


He was walking along a road which skirted his 
own group of pits. To his left rose a long slope of 
refuse, partly grown over, ending in the "bank" 
whereon stood the engine-house and winding-appa- 
ratus. A pathway climbed the slope and made the 
natural ascent to the pit for people dwelling in the 
scattered cottages on the farther side of it. 

Two men, he saw, were standing high up on the 
pathway, violently disputing. One was Madan, his 
own manager, an excellent man of business and a 
bitter Tory. The other was Valentine Bewick. 

As Tressady neared the road-entrance to the path- 
way the two men parted. Madan climbed on towards 
the pit. Bewick ran down the path. 

As he approached the gate, and saw Tressady pass- 
ing on the road, the agent called : 

" Sir George Tressady ! " 

George stopped. 

Bewick came quickly up to him, his face crimson. 

" Is it by your orders, Sir George, that Mr. Madan 
insults and browbeats me when he meets me on a 
perfectly harmless errand to one of the men in your 
engine-house ? " 

" Perhaps Mr. Madan was not so sure as you were, 
Mr. Bewick, that the errand was a harmless one," 
said George, with a cool smile. 

By this time, however, Bewick was biting his lip, 
and very conscious that he had made an impulsive 

"Don't imagine for a moment," he said hotly, "that 
Madan's opinion of anything I may be doing matters 
one brass farthing to me ! Only I give you and him 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


fair warning that if he blackguards me again in the 
way he has done several times lately, I shall have 
him bound over/' 

"He might survive it," said George. "But how 
will you manage it ? You have had ill-luck, rather, 
with the magistrates — haven't you ? " 

He stood drawn up to his full height, thin, venom- 
ous, alert, rather enjoying the encounter, which " let 
off the steam " of his previous irritations. 

Bewick threw him a furious look. 

"You think that a damaging thing to say, do you, 
Sir George? Perhaps the day will come — not so 
far off, neither — when the magistrates will be no 
longer your creatures, but ours. Then we shall see ! " 

" Well, prophecy is cheap," said George. " Console 
yourself with it, by all means." 

The two men measured each other eye to eye. 

Then, unexpectedly, after the relief of his outburst, 
the philosopher's instincts which were so oddly inter- 
woven with the rest of Tressady's nature reasserted 

" Look here," he said, in another manner, advancing 
a step. "I think this is all great nonsense. If 
Madan has exceeded his duty, I will see to it. And, 
meanwhile, don't you think it would be more worthy 
of us, as a couple of rational beings, if, now we have 
met, we had a few serious words on the state of things 
in this valley ? You and I fought a square fight at 
Malf ord — you at least said as much. Why can't we 
fight a square fight here ? " 

Bewick eyed him doubtfully. He was leaning on 
his stick, recovering breath and composure. George 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


noticed that since the Malf ord election, even he had 
lost youth and looks. He had the drunkard's skin 
and the drunkard's eyes. Yet there were still the 
make and proportions of the handsome athlete. He 
was now a man of about thirty-two ; but in his first 
youth he had carried the miner's pick for some four 
or five years, and during the same period had been 
one of the most famous football-players of the county. 
As George knew, he was still the idol of the local 
clubs, and capable in his sober spells of amazing feats 
both of strength and endurance. 

"Well, I have no objection to some conversation 
with you," said Bewick, at last, slowly. 

" Let's walk on, then," said George. 

And they walked past the gate of Ferth, towards 
the railway-station, which was some two miles off. 

About an hour later the two men returned along the 
same road. Both had an air of tension; both were 
rather pale. 

" Well, it comes to this," said George, as he stopped 
beside his own gate, "you believe our case — the bad- 
ness of trade, the disappearance of profits, pressure of 
contracts, and all the rest of it — and you still refuse 
on your part to bear the smallest fraction of the bur- 
den ? You will claim all you can get in good times 
— you will give back nothing in bad ? " 

"That is so," said Bewick, deliberately; "that is 
so, precisely. We will take no risks; we give our 
labour and in return the workman must live. Make 
the consumer pay, or pay yourselves out of your good 
years" — he turned imperceptibly towards the bar- 
rack-like house on the hill. " We don't care a ha'porth 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


which it is! — only don't you come on the man who 
risks his life, and works like a galley-slave five days 
a week for a pittance of five-and-twenty shillings, or 
thereabouts, to pay — for he wonH, He's tired of it. 
Not till you starve him into it, at any rate ! " 

George laughed. 

" One of the best men in the village has been giving 
me his opinion this afternoon that there isn't a man 
in that place" — he pointed to it — "that couldn't 
live, and live well — aye, and take the masters' terms 
to-morrow — but for the drink ! " 

His keen look ran over Bewick from head to foot. 

"And I know who that is," said Bewick, with a 
sneer. "Well, I can tell you what the rest of the 
men in that place think, and it's this : that the man 
in that village who doemH drink is a mean skunk, 
who's betraying his own flesh and blood to the capi- 
talists ! Oh ! you may preach at us till you're black 
in the face, but drink we shall till we get the control of 
our own labour. For, look here ! Directly we cease 
to drink — directly we become good boys on your 
precious terms — the standard of life falls, down come 
wages, and you sweep off our beer-money to spend on 
your champagne. Thank you. Sir George ! but we're 
not such fools as we look — and that don't suit us! 
Good-day to you." 

And he haughtily touched his hat in response to 
George's movement, and walked quickly away. 

George slowly mounted his own hill. The cheq- 
uered April day was declining, and the dipping sun 
was flooding the western plain with quiet light. 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


Rooks were circling round the hill, filling the air with 
long-drawn sound. A cuckoo was calling on a tree 
near at hand, and the evening was charged with spring 
scents — scents of leaf and grass, of earth and rain. 
Below, in an oak copse across the road, a stream 
rushed ; and from a distance came the familiar rattle 
and thud of the pits. 

George stood still a moment under a ragged group 
of Scotch firs — one of the few things at Ferth that 
he loved — and gazed across the Cheshire border to 
the distant lines of Welsh hills. The excitement of 
his talk with Bewick was subsiding, leaving behind 
it the obstinate resolve of the natural man. He 
should tell his uncles there was nothing for it but to 
fight it out. Some blood must be let; somebody must 
be master. 

What poor limited fools, after all, were the best of 
the working men — how incapable of working out any 
serious problem, of looking beyond their own noses 
and the next meal ! Was he to spend his life in 
chronic battle with them — a set of semi-civilised bar- 
barians — his countrymen in nothing but the name? 
And for what cause — to what cry? That he might 
defend against the toilers of this wide valley a certain 
elegant house in Brook Street, and find the means 
to go on paying his mother's debts ? — such debts 
as he carried the evidence of, at that moment, in his 

Suddenly there swept over his mind with pricking 
force the thought of Mary Batchelor at her door, blind 
with weeping and pain — of the poor boy, dead in his 
prime. Did those two figures stand for the realities at 

VOL, I — P 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


the base of tMngs — the common labours, affections, 
agonies, which uphold the world ? 

His own life looked somehow poor and mean to 
him as he turned back to it. The Socialist of course 

— Bewick — would say that he and Letty and his 
mother were merely living, and dressing, and enjoy- 
ing themselves, paying butlers, and starting carriages 
out of the labour and pain of others — that Jamie 
Batchelor and his like risked and brutalised their 
strong young lives that Lady Tressady and her like 
might "jig and amble'' through theirs. 

Pure ignorant fanaticism, no doubt ! But he was 
not so ready as usual to shelter himself under the 
big words of controversy. Fontenoy's favourite argu- 
ments had momentarily no savour for a kind of moral 

" I begin to see it was a ' cursed spite ' that drove 
me into the business at all," he said to himself, as he 
stood under the trees. 

What he was really suffering from was an impa- 
tience of new conditions — perhaps surprise that he 
was not more equal to them. Till his return home 

— till now, almost — he had been an employer and a 
coal-owner by proxy. Other people had worked for 
him, had solved his problems for him. Then a tran- 
sient impulse had driven him home — made him accept 
Fontenoy's offer. — worse luck ! — at least, Letty apart ! 
The hopefulness and elation about himself, his new 
activities, and his Parliamentary prospects, that had 
been his predominant mood in London seemed to him 
at this moment of depression mere folly. What he 
really felt, he declared to himself, was a sort of 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


cowardly shrinking from life and its tests — the rec- 
ognition that at bottom he was a weakling, with- 
out faiths, without true identity. 

Then the quick thought-process, as it flowed on, 
told him that there are two things that protect men 
of his stamp from their own lack of moral stamina : 
perpetual change of scene, that turns the world into 
a spectacle — and love. He thought with hunger of 
his travel-years ; holding away from him, as it were, 
for a moment the thought of his marriage. 

But only for a moment. It was but a few weeks 
since a woman's life had given itself wholly into his 
hands. He was still thrilling under the emotion and 
astonishment of it. Tender, melting thoughts flowed 
upon him. His little Letty ! Had he ever thought 
her perfect, free from natural covetousness and weak- 
nesses ? What folly ! He to ask for the grand style 
in character ! 

He looked at his watch. How long he had left her! 
Let him hurry, and make his peace. 

However, just as he was turning, his attention was 
caught by something that was passing on the opposite 
hillside. The light from the west was shining full on 
a white cottage with a sloping garden. The cottage 
belonged to the Wesleyan minister of the place, and 
had been rented by Bewick for the last six months. 
And just as George was turning away he saw Bewick 
come out of the door with a burden — a child, or a 
woman little larger than a child — in his arms. He 
carried her to an armchair which had been placed on 
the little grass-plat. The figure was almost lost in 
the chair, and sat motionless while Bewick brought 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


cushions and a stool. Then a baby came to play on 
the grass, and Bewick hung over the back of the 
chair, bending so as to talk to the person in it. 

"Dying?" said George to himself. "Poor devil! 
he must hate something." 

He sped up the hill, and found Letty still on the 
sofa and in the last pages of her novel. She did not 
resent his absence apparently, — a freedom, so far, 
from small exaction for which he inwardly thanked 
her. Still, from the moment that she raised her eyes 
as he came in, he saw that if she was not angry with 
him for leaving her alone, her mind was still as sore 
as ever against him and fortune on other accounts — 
and his revived ardour drooped. He gave her an 
account of his adventures, but she was neither in- 
quiring nor sympathetic; and her manner all the 
evening had a nervous dryness that took away the 
pleasure of their tMe-drtMe, Any old friend of Letty's, 
indeed, could hardly have failed to ask what had 
become of that small tinkling charm of manner, that 
girlish flippancy and repartee, that had counted for so 
much in George's first impressions of her ? They were 
no sooner engaged than it had begun to wane. Was 
it like the bird or the flower, that adorns itself only 
for the wooing time, and sinks into relative dinginess 
when the mating effort is over ? 

On this particular evening, indeed, she was really 
absorbed half the time in gloomy thoughts of Lady 
Tressady's behaviour and the poorness of her own 
prospects. She lay on the sofa again after dinner — 
her white slimness and bright hair showing delicately 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


against the cushions — playing still with her novel, 
while George read the newspapers. Sometimes she 
glanced at him unsteadily, with a pinching of the lips. 
But it was not her way to invite a scene. 

Late at night he went up to his dressing-room. 

As he entered it Letiy was talking to her maid. He 
stopped involuntarily in the darkness of his own room, 
and listened. What a contrast between this Letty and 
the Letty of the drawing-room ! They were chattering 
fast, discussing Lady Tressady, and Lady Tressady's 
gowns, and Lady Tressady's affairs. What eagerness, 
what malice, what feminine subtlety and acuteness ! 
After listening for a few seconds, it seemed to him as 
though a score of new and Ugly lights had been thrown 
alike upon his mother and on human nature. He stole 
away again without revealing himself. 

When he returned the room was nearly dark, and 
Letty was lying high against her pillows, waiting for 
him. Suddenly, after she had sent her maid away, 
she had felt depressed and miserable, and had begun 
to cry. And for some reason hardly clear to herself 
she had lain pining for George's footstep. When he 
came in she looked at him with eyes still wet, re- 
proaching him gently for being late. 

In the dim light, surrounded with lace and white- 
ness, she was a pretty vision ; and George stood beside 
her, responding and caressing. 

But that black depth in his nature, of which he had 
spoken to her — which he had married to forget — was, 
none the less, all ruffled and vocal. For the first time 
since Letty had consented to marry him he did not think 
or say to himself, as he looked at her, that he was a 
lucky man, and had done everything for the best. 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


Thus, with the end of the honeymoon, whatever 
hopes or illusions George Tressady had allowed him- 
self in marrying, were already much bedimmed. His 
love-dream had been meagre and ordinary enough. 
But even so, it had not maintained itself. 

Nevertheless, such impressions and emotions pass. 
The iron fact of marriage outstays them, tends always 
to modify, and, at first, to conquer them. 

Upon the Tressadys' return to London, Letty, at 
any rate, endeavoured to forget her great defeat of the 
honeymoon in the excitement of furnishing the house 
in Brook Street. Certainly there could be no question, 
in spite of all her high speech to Miss TuUoch and 
others, that in her first encounter with Lady Tressady, 
Lady Tressady had won easily. Letty had forgotten 
to reckon on the hard realities of the filial relation, 
and could only think of them now, partly with exas- 
peration, partly with despair. 

Lady Tressady, however, was for the moment some- 
what subdued, and on the return of the young people 
to town she did her best to propitiate Letty. In 
Letty's eyes, indeed, her offence was beyond repara- 
tion. But, for the moment, there was outward amity 
at least between them ; which for Letty meant chiefly 
that she was conscious of making all her purchases 


Digitized by VjOOQIC 


for the house and planning all her housekeeping 
arrangements under a constant critical inspection; 
and, moreover, that she was liable to find all her 
afternoon-teas with particular friends, or those per- 
sons of whom she wished to make particular friends, 
broken up by the advent of the overdressed and be- 
rouged lady, who first put the guests to flight, and 
was then out of temper because they fled. 

Meanwhile George found the Shapetsky matter ex- 
tremely harassing. He put on a clever lawyer ; but 
the Shapetsky would have scorned to be overmatched 
by anybody else's abilities, and very little abatement 
could be obtained. Moreover, the creditor's temper 
had been roughened by a somewhat unfortunate letter 
George had written in a hurry from Ferth, and he 
showed every sign of carrying matters with as high a 
hand as possible. 

Meanwhile, George was discovering, like any other 
landowner, how easy it is to talk of selling land, how 
difB-Cult to sell it. The buyer who would once have 
bought was not now forthcoming ; the few people who 
nibbled were, naturally, thinking more of their own 
purses than Tressady's; and George grew red with 
indication over some of the offers submitted to him 
by his country solicitor. With the payment of a first 
large instalment to Shapetsky out of his ordinary ac- 
count, he began to be really pressed for money, just 
as the expenses of the Brook Street settling-in were at 
their height. This pecuniary strain had a marked 
effect upon him. It brought out certain features of 
character which he no doubt inherited from his father. 
Old Sir William had always shown a scrupulous and 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


petty temper in money matters. He could not increase 
his possessions: for that he had apparently neither 
brains nor judgment ; nor could he even protect him- 
self from the more serious losses of business, for 
George found heavy debts in existence — mortgages 
on the pits and so forth — when he succeeded. But 
as the head of a household Sir William showed ex- 
traordinary tenacity and spirit in the defence of his 
petty cash ; and the exasperating extravagance of the 
wife whom, in a moment of infatuation, he had been 
cajoled into marrying, intensified and embittered a 
natural characteristic. 

George so far resembled him that both at school and 
college he had been a rather careful and abstemious 
boy. Probably the spectacle of his mother's advent- 
ures had revealed to him very early the humilia- 
tions of the debtor. At any rate, during his four years 
abroad he had never exceeded the modest yearly sum 
he had reserved for himself on leaving England ; and 
the frugality of his personal expenditure had counted 
for something in the estimates formed of him during 
his travels by competent persons. 

Nevertheless, at this beginning of household life he 
was still young and callow in all that concerned the 
management of money ; and it had never occurred to 
him that his somewhat uncertain income of about four 
thousand a year would not be amply sufficient for any- 
thing that he and Letty might need ; for housekeep- 
ing, for children — if children came — for political 
expenses, and even for those supplementary presents 
to his mother which he had all along recognised as 
inevitable. Now, however, what with the difficulty 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


he found in settling the Shapetsky affair, what with 
Letty's demands for the house, and his revived dread 
of what his mother might be doing, together with his 
overdrawn account and the position of his colliery 
property, a secret fear of embarrassment and disaster 
began to torment him, the offspring of a temperament 
which had never perhaps possessed any real buoyancy. 
Occasionally, under the stimulus of this fear, he 
would leave the House of Commons on a Wednesday 
or Saturday afternoon, walk to Warwick Square, and 
appear precipitately in his mother's drawing-room, for 
the purpose of examining the guests — or possible 
harpies — who might be gathered there. He did his 
best once or twice to dislodge the "singer-fellow'' — an 
elderly gentleman with a flabby face and long hair, 
who seemed to George to be equally boneless, physi- 
cally and morally. Nevertheless, he was not to be 
dislodged. The singer, indeed, treated the young 
legislator with a mixture of deference and artistic 
condescension, which was amusing or enraging as you 
chose to take it. And once, when George attempted 
very plain language with his mother. Lady Tressady 
went into hysterics, and vowed that she would not be 
parted from her friends, not even by the brutality of 
young married people who had everything they wanted, 
while she was a poor lone widow, whose life was not 
worth living. The whole affair was, so to speak, sor- 
didly innocent. Mr. ifullerton — such was the gentle- 
man's name — wanted creature-comforts and occasional 
loans ; Lady Tressady wanted company, compliments, 
and "musical sketches" for her little tea-parties. 
Mrs. Fullerton was as ready as her husband to supply 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


the two former ; and even the children, a fair-haired, 
lethargic crew, painfully like their boneless father in 
Tressady's opinion, took their share in the general 
exploitation of Tressady's mamma. Lady Tressady 
meanwhile posed as the benefactor of genius in dis- 
tress ; and vowed, moreover, that " poor dear Fullerton'' 
was in no way responsible for her recent misfortunes. 
The "reptile," and the " reptile" only, was to blame. 

After one of these skirmishes with his mother, 
George, ruffled and disgusted, took his way home, to 
find Letty eagerly engaged in choosing silk curtains 
for the drawing-room. 

" Oh ! how lucky ! " she cried, when she saw him. 
" Now you can help me decide — siich a business ! " 

And she led him into the drawing-room, where 
lengths of pink and green brocade were pinned against 
the wall in conspicuous places. 

George admired, and gave his verdict in favour of a 
particular green. Then he stooped to read the ticket 
on the corner of the pattern, and his face fell. 

" How much will you want of this stuff, Letty ? '' 
he asked her. 

" Oh ! for the two rooms, nearly fifty yards," said 
Letty, carelessly, opening another bundle of patterns 
as she spoke. 

"It is twenty-six shillings a yard!" said George, 
rather gloomily, as he fell, tired, into an armchair. 

"Well, yes, it is dear. But then, it is so good that 
it will last an age. I think I must have some of it 
for the sofa, too," said Letty, pondering. 

George made no reply. 

Presently Letty looked up. 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


" Why, George ? — George, what is the matter ? 
Don't you want anything pretty for this room ? You 
never take any interest in it at all." 

"I'm only thinking, darling, what fortunes the 
upholsterers must make," said George, his hands 
pent-house over his eyes. 

Letty pouted and flushed. The next minute she 
came to sit on the edge of his chair. She was dressed 
-^rather overdressed, perhaps — in a pale blue dress 
whereof the inventive ruffles and laces pleased her 
own critical mind extremely. George, well accus- 
tomed by now to the items in his mother's bills, felt 
uncomfortably, as he looked at the elegance beside 
him, that it was a question of guineas — many guineas. 
Then he hated himself for not simply admiring her — 
his pretty little bride — in her new finery. What was 
wrong with him ? This beastly money had put every- 
thing awry ! 

Letty guessed shrewdly at what was the matter. 
She bit her lip, and looked ready to cry. 

"Well, it is hard," she said, in a low, emphatic 
voice, " that we can't please ourselves in a few trifles 
of this sort — when one thinks why ! " 

George took her hand, and kissed it affectionately. 

"Darling, only just for a little — till I get out of 
this brute's clutches. There are such pretty, cheap 
things nowadays — aren't there ? " 

"Oh! if you want to have a South Kensington 
drawing-room," said Letty, indignantly, "with four- 
penny muslin curtains and art pots, you can do that 
for nothing. But I'd rather go back to horsehair and 
a mahogany table in the middle at once I " 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


"You needn^t wear ^ greenery-yallery ' gowns, you 
know," said George, laughing ; " that^s the one unpar- 
donable thing. Though, if you did wear them, you'd 
become them." 

And he held her at arm's length that he might prop- 
erly admire her new dress. 

Letty, however, was not to be flattered out of her 
lawful dues in the matter of curtains — that Lady 
Tressady's debts might be paid the sooner. She threw 
herself into a long wrestle with George, half angry, 
half plaintive, and in the end she wrung out of him 
much more considerable matters than the brocades 
originally in dispute. Then George went down to his 
study, pricked in his conscience, and vaguely sore 
with Letty. Why ? Women in his eyes were made 
for silken gauds and trinkets : it was the price that 
men were bound to pay them for their society. He 
had watched the same sort of process that had now 
been applied to himself many times already in one or 
more of the Anglo-Indian households with which he 
had grown familiar, and had been philosophically 
amused by it. But the little comedy, transferred to 
his own hearth, seemed somehow to have lost humour 
and point. 

Still, with two young people, under thirty, just 
entering upon that fateful second act of the play of 
life which makes or mars us all, moments of dissatis- 
faction and depression — even with Shapetskys and 
Lady Tressadys in the background — were but rare 
specks in the general sum of pleasure. George had 
fallen once more under the Parliamentary illusion, 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


as soon as he was again within reach of the House of 
Commons and in frequent contact with Fontenoy. 
The link between him and his strange leader grew 
daily stronger as they sat side by side, through some 
hard-fought weeks of Supply, throwing the force of 
their little group now on the side of the Government, 
now on that of the Opposition, always vigilant, and 
often successful. George became necessary to Fonte- 
noy in a hundred ways ; for the younger man had a 
mass of connaissances, — to use the irreplaceable French 
word, — the result of his more normal training and his 
four years of intelligent travel, which Fontenoy was 
almost wholly without. Many a blunder did George 
save his chief; and no one could have offered his 
brains for the picking with a heartier goodwill. On 
the other hand, the instinctive strength and acuteness 
of Fontenoy's judgment were unmatched, according to 
Tressady's belief, in the House of Commons. He was 
hardly ever deceived in a man, or in the significant 
points of a situation. His followers never dreamt of 
questioning his verdict on a point of tactics. They 
followed him blindly ; and if the gods sent defeat, no 
one blamed Fontenoy. But in success his grunt of 
approval or congratulation rewarded the curled young 
aristocrats who made the nucleus of his party as noth- 
ing else did ; while none of his band ever affronted or 
overrode him with impunity. He wielded a natural 
kingship, and, the more battered and gnarled became 
his physical presence, the more remarkable was his 
moral ascendency. 

One discouragement, however, he and his group 
suffered during the weeks between Easter and Whit- 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


suntide. They were hungry for battle, and the best 
of the battle was for the moment denied them; for, 
owing to a number of controverted votes in Supply 
and the slipping-in of two or three inevitable debates 
on pressing matters of current interest, the Second 
Reading of the Maxwell Bill was postponed till after 
Whitsuntide, when it was certainly to take prece- 
dence. There was a good deal of grumbling in the 
House, led by Fontenoy ; but the Government could 
only vow that they had no choice, and that their ad- 
versaries could not possibly be more eager to fight 
than they were to be fought. 

Life, then, on this public side, though not so keen 
as it would be presently, was still rich and stirring. 
And meanwhile society showed itself gracious to the 
bride and bridegroom. Letty's marriage had made 
her unusually popular for the time with her own 
acquaintance. For it might be called success ; yet it 
was not of too dazzling a degree. What, therefore, 
with George's public and Parliamentary relations, the 
calls of officials, the attentions of personal friends, and 
the good offices of Mrs. Watton, who was loftily de- 
termined to "launch'' her niece, Letty was always 
well pleased with the look of her hall-table and the 
cards upon it when she returned home in her new 
brougham from her afternoon round. She left them 
there for George to see, and it delighted her particu- 
larly if Lady Tressady came in during the interval. 

Meanwhile they dined with many folk, and made 
preliminary acquaintance with the great ones of the 
land. Letty's vanity swelled within her as she read 
over the list of her engagements. Nevertheless, she 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


often came home from her dinner-parties flat and dis- 
appointed. She did not feel that she made way ; and 
she found herself constantly watching the triumphs 
of other women with annoyance or perplexity. What 
was wrong with her ? Her dress was irreproachable, 
and, stirred by this great roaring world, she recalled 
for it the little airs and graces she had almost ceased 
to spend on George. But she constantly found her- 
self, as she thought, neglected; while the slightest 
word or look of some happy person in a simple gown, 
near by, had power to bring about her that flattering 
crowd of talkers and of courtiers for which Letty 

The Maxwells called very early on the newly wedded 
pair, and left an invitation to dinner with their cards. 
But, to Letty's chagrin, she and George were already 
engaged for the evening named, and when they duly 
presented themselves at St. James's Square on a Sun- 
day afternoon, it was to find that the Maxwells were 
in the country. Once or twice in some crowded room 
Letty or George had a few hurried words with Lady 
Maxwell, and Marcella would try to plan a meeting. 
But what with her engagements and theirs, nothing 
that she suggested could be done. 

" Ah ! well, after Whitsuntide,'' she said, smiling, to 
Letty one evening that they had interchanged a few 
words of polite regret on the stairs at some official 
party. " I will write to you in the country, if I may. 
Ferth Place, is it not? " 

"No," said Letty, with easy dignity; "we shall not 
be at home, — not at first, at any rate. We are going 
for two or three days to Mrs. Allison, at Castle Luton." 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


"Are you? You will have a pleasant time. Such 
a glorious old house ! " 

And Lady Maxwell swept on; not so fast, how- 
ever, but that she found time to have a few words 
of Parliamentary chat with Tressady on the land- 

Letty made her little speech about Castle Luton 
with a delightful sense of playing the rare and fa- 
voured part. Nothing in her London career, so far, 
had pleased her so much as Mrs. Allison's call and 
Mrs. Allison's invitation. For, although on the few 
occasions when she had seen this gentle, white-haired 
lady, Letty had never felt for one moment at ease with 
her, still, there could be no question that Mrs. Allison 
was, socially, distinction itself. She had a following 
among all parties. For although she was Fontenoy's 
friend and inspirer, a strong Church-woman, and a 
great aristocrat, she had that delicate, long-descended 
charm which shuts the lions' mouths, and makes it 
possible for certain women to rule in any company. 
Even those who were most convinced that the Mrs. Alli- 
sons of this world are the chief obstacles in the path 
of progress, deliberated when they were asked to 
Castle Luton, and fell — protesting. And for a certain 
world, high-born, cultivated, and virtuous, she was 
almost a figure of legend, so widespread was the feel- 
ing she inspired, and so many were the associations 
and recollections that clustered about her. 

So that when her cards, those of her son Lord An- 
coats, and a little accompanying note in thin French 
handwriting — Mrs. Allison had been brought up in 
Paris — arrived, Letty had a start of pleasure. " To 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


meet a few friends of mine " — that meant, of course, 
one of the parties. She supposed it was Lord Fonte- 
noy's doing. He was said to ask whom he would to 
Castle Luton. Under the influence of this idea, at any 
rate, she bore herself towards her husband's chief at 
their next meeting with an effusion which made Fon- 
tenoy supremely uncomfortable. 

The week before Whitsuntide happened to be one of 
special annoyance for Tressady. His reports from 
Ferth were steadily more discouraging; his attempts 
to sell his land made no way ; and he saw plainly that, 
if he was to keep their London life going, to provide 
for Shapetsky's claims, and to give Letty what she 
wanted for renovations at Ferth, he would have to sell 
some of the very small list of good securities left him 
by his father. Most young men in his place, perhaps, 
would have taken such a thing with indifference ; he 
brooded over it. " I am beginning to spend my capi- 
tal as income," he said to himself. " The strike will 
be on in July ; next half-year I shall get almost nothing 
from the pits ; rents won't come to much ; Letty wants 
all kinds of things. How long will it be before I, too, 
am in debt, like my mother, borrowing from this 
person and that?" 

Then he would make stem resolutions of economy, 
only to be baffled by Letty's determination to have 
everything that other people had; above all, not to 
allow her own life to be stinted because he had so 
foolishly adopted his mother's debts. She said little ; 
or said it with smiles and a bridal standing on her 
Hghts not to be answered. But her persistence in a par- 
ticular kind of claim, and her new refusal to be taken 

VOL. I — Q 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


into his confidence and made the partner of his anxi- 
eties, raised a miserable feeling in his mind as the 
weeks went on. 

" No ! '' she said to herself, all the time resenting 
bitterly what had happened at Ferth ; " if I let him 
talk to me about it, I shall be giving in, and letting 
her trample on me! If George will be so weak, he 
must find the money somehow. Of course he can ! I 
am not in the le<xst extravagant. I am only doing 
what everybody expects me to do." 

Meanwhile this state of things did not make Lady 
Tressady any more welcome in Brook Street, and there 
were symptoms of grievances and quarrels of another 
sort. Lady Tressady heard that the young couple had 
already given one or two tiny dinner-parties, and to 
none of them had she been invited. One day that 
George had been obliged to go to Warwick Square to 
consult her on business, he was suddenly overwhelmed 
with reproaches on this point. 

" I suppose Letty thinks I should spoil her parties ! 
She is ashamed of me, perhaps " — Lady Tressady 
gave an angry laugh. " Oh ! very well ; but I should 
like you and her to understand, George, that I have 
been a good deal more admired in my time than ever 
Letty need expect to be ! " 

And George's mother, in a surprising yellow tear 
gown, threw herself back on her chair, bridling with 
wrath and emotion. George declared, with good tem- 
per, that he and Letty were well aware of his mother's 
triumphs ; whereupon Lady Tressady, becoming tear- 
ful, said she knew it wasn't a pretty thing to say — 
of course it wasn't — but if one was treated unkindly 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


by one's only son and his wife, what could one do but 
assert oneself ? 

George soothed her as best he could, and on his re- 
turn home said tentatively to Letty, that he believed 
it would please his mother if they were to ask her to 
a small impromptu dinner of Parliamentary friends 
which they were planning for the following Friday. 

"George!" exclaimed Letty, her eyes gleaming, 
"we can't ask her! I don't want to say anything 
disagreeable, but you must see that people don't like 
her — her dress is so extraordiruxi^, and her manners 
— it sets people against the house. I do think it's too 
bad that — " 

She turned aside with a sudden sob. George kissed 
her, and sympathised with her; for he himself was 
never at ease now for an instant while his mother was 
in the room. But the widening of the breach which 
Letty's refusal brought about only made his own posi- 
tion between the two women the more disagreeable to 
a man whose ideal of a home was that it should be a 
place of perpetual soothing and amusement. 

On the very morning of their departure for Castle 
Luton matters reached a small crisis. Letty, tired 
with some festivity of the night before, took her 
breakfast in bed ; and George, going upstairs toward 
the middle of the morning to make some arrangement 
with her for the journey, found her just come down, 
and walking up and down the drawing-room, her pale 
pink dress sweeping the floor, her hands clasped be- 
hind her. She was very pale, and her small lips were 
tightly drawn. 

He looked at her with astonishment. 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


^' What is the matter, darling ? " 

"Oh! nothing," said Letty, trying to speak with 
sarcasm. "Nothing at all. I have only just been 
listening to an account of the way in which your 
mother speaks of me to her friends. I ought to be 
flattered, of course, that she notices me at all ! But 
I think I shall have to ask you to request her to put 
off her visit to Ferth a little. It could hardly give 
either of us much enjoyment." 

George first pulled his moustaches, then tried, as 
usual, to banter or kiss her into composure. Above 
all, he desired not to know what Lady Tressady had 
said. But Letty was determined he should know. 
" She was heard " — she began passionately, holding 
him at arm's length — "she was heard saying to a 
wTiole roomful of people yesterday, that I was * pretty, 
of course — rather pretty — but so second rate — and 
so provincial ! It was such a pity dear George had 
not waited till he had been a few months in Lon- 
don. Still, of course, one could only make the best 
of it!'" 

Letty mimicked her mother-in-law's drawling voice, 
two red spots burning on either cheek the while, and 
her little fingers gripping George's arm. 

"I don't believe she ever said such things. Who 
told you so ? " said George, stiffening, his arm drop- 
ping from her waist. 

Letty tossed her head. 

"Never mind! I ov^ght to know, and it doesn't 
really matter how I know. She did say them." 

" Yes, it does matter," said George, quickly, walk- 
ing away to the other side of the room. " Letty ! if 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


you would only send away that woman Grier, you 
can't think how much happier we should both be." 

Letty stood still, opening her blue eyes wide. 

" You want me — to get rid — of Grier," she 
said, "my own particular pet maid? And why — 

George had the courage to stick to his point, and 
the result was a heated and angry scene — their first 
real quarrel — which ended in Letty's rushing up- 
stairs in tears, and declaring she would go nowhere. 
He might go to Castle Luton, if he pleased ; she was 
far too agitated and exhausted to face a houseful of 

The inevitable reconciliation, with its usual accom- 
paniments of headache and eau de cologne, took time, 
and they only just completed their preparations and 
caught their appointed train. 

Meanwhile the storm of the day had taken all 
savour from Letty's expectations, and made George 
feel the whole business an effort and a weariness. 
Letty sat pale and silent in her corner, devoured with 
regrets that she had not put on a thicker veil to hide 
the ravages of the morning; while George turned 
over the pages of a political biography, and could not 
prevent his mind from falling back again and again 
into dark places of dread and depression. 

" You are my earliest guests," said Mrs. Allison, as 
she placed a chair for Letty beside herself, on the 
lawn at Castle Luton. "Except, indeed, that Lady 
Maxwell and her little boy are here somewhere, roam- 
ing about. But none of our other friends could get 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


down till later. I am glad we shall have a little 
quiet time before they come." 

" Lady Maxwell ! " said Letty. " I had no idea they 
were coming. Oh, what a lovely day ! and how beau- 
tiful it all is ! " she cried, as she sat down and looked 
round her. The colour came back into her cheeks. 
She forgot her determination to keep her veil down, 
and raised it eagerly. 

Mrs. Allison smiled. 

" We never look so well as in May — the river is so 
full, and the swans are so white. Ah ! I see Edgar 
has already taken Sir George to make friends with 

And Letty, looking across the broad green lawn, 
saw the flash of a brimming river and a cluster of 
white swans, beside which stood her husband and a 
young man in a serge suit, who was feeding the swans 
with bread — Lord Ancoats, no doubt, the happy 
owner of all this splendour. To the left of their 
figures rose a stone bridge with a high, carved parapet, 
and beyond the river she saw green hills and woods 
against a radiant sky. Then, to her right was this 
wonderful yellowish pile of the old house. She began 
to admire and exclaim about it with a great energy 
and effusion, trying hard to say the correct and culti- 
vated thing, and, in fact, repeating with a good deal 
of exactness what she had heard said of it by others. 

Her hostess listened to her praises with a gentle 
smile. Gentleness, indeed, a rather sad gentleness, 
was the characteristic of Mrs. Allison. It seemed to 
make an atmosphere about her — her delicate blanched 
head and soft face, her small figure, her plain black 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


dress, her hands in their white rufELes. Her friends 
called it saintliness. At any rate, it set her apart, 
giving her a peculiar ethereal dignity which made her 
formidable in society to many persons who were not 
liable to shyness. Letty from the beginning had felt 
her formidable. 

Yet nothing could be kinder or simpler than her 
manner. In response to Letty's enthusiasms she let 
herself be drawn at once into speaking of her own 
love for the house, and on to pointing out its feat- 

" I am always telling these things to newcomers," 
she said, smiling. " And I am not clever enough to 
make variations. But I don't mind, somehow, how 
often I go through it. You see, this front is Tudor, 
and the south front is a hundred years later, and both 
of them, they say, are the finest of their kind. Isn't 
it wonderful that two men, a hundred years apart, 
should each have left such a noble thing behind him. 
One inspired the other. And then we — we poor 
moderns come after, and must cherish what they left 
us as .we best can. It's a great responsibility, don't 
you think? to live in a beautiful house." 

" I'm afraid I don't know much about it," said Letty, 
laughing ; " we live in such a very ugly one." 

Mrs. Allison looked sympathetic. 

" Oh ! but then, ugly ones have character ; or they 
are pretty inside, or the people one loves have lived 
in them. That would make any place a House 
Beautiful. Aren't you near Ferth ? " 

"Yes; and I am afraid you'll think me dreadfully 
discontented," said Letty, with one of her little laugh- 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


ing airs ; " but there really isn't anything to make up 
in our barrack of a place. It's like a blackened brick 
set up on end at the top of a hill. And then the 
villages are so hideous/' 

" Ah I I know that coal-country," said Mrs. Allison, 
gravely — "and I know the people. Have you made 
friends with them yet ? " 

" We wer^ only there for our honeymoon. George 
says that next month the whole place will be out on 
strike. So just now they hate us — they will hardly 
look at us in the street. But, of course, we shall give 
away things at Christmas." 

Mrs. Allison's lip twitched, and she shot a glance 
at the bride which betrayed, for all her gentleness, 
the woman of a large world and much converse with 
mankind. What a curious, hard little face was Lady 
Tressady's under the outer softness of line and hue, 
and what an amazing costume! Mrs. Allison had 
no quarrel with beautiful gowns, but the elabora- 
tion, or, as one might say, the research of Letty's 
dress struck her unpleasantly. The time that it 
must have taken to think out! 

Aloud she said : 

"Ah! the strike. Yes, I fear it is inevitable. 
Ancoats has some property not very far from you, 
and we get reports. Poor fellows! if it weren't for 
the wretched agitators who mislead them — but there, 
we mustn't talk of these things. I see Lady Maxwell 

And Mrs. Allison waved her hand to a tall figure 
in white with a child beside it that had just emerged 
on the far distance of the lawn. 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


" Is Lord Maxwell here, too ? " asked Letty. 

"He is coming later. It seems strange, perhaps, 
that you should find them here this Sunday, for Lord 
Fontenoy comes to-morrow, and the great fight will be 
on so soon. But when I foiind that they were free, 
and that Maxwell would like to come, I was only too 
glad. After all, rival politicians in England can still 
meet each other, even at a crisis. Besides, Maxwell 
is a relation of ours, and he was my boy's guardian — 
the kindest possible guardian. Politics apart, I have 
the greatest respect for him. And her too. Why is 
it always the best people in the world that do the 
most mischief ? '^ 

At the mention of Lord Fontenoy it had been 
Letty's turn to throw a quick side look at Mrs. 
Allison. But the name was spoken in the quietest 
and most natural way; and yet, if one analysed the 
tone, in a way that did imply something exceptional, 
which, however, all the world knew, or might know. 

" Is Lady Maxwell an old friend of yours, too ? " 
asked Letty, longing to pursue the subject, and vexed 
to see how fast the mother and child were approach- 

"Only since her marriage. To see her and Max- 
well together is really a poem. If only she wouldn't 
identify herself so hotly, dear woman! with every- 
thing he does and wishes in politics. There is no 
getting her to hear a word of reason. She is another 
Maxwell in petticoats. And it always seems to me 
so unfair. Maxwell without beauty and without petti- 
coats is quite enough to fight! Look at that little 
fellow with his flowers ! — such an oddity of a child ! " 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


Then she raised her voice. 

"My dear, what a ramble you must have made. 
Come and have a shady chair and some tea.'' 

For answer Marcella, laughing, held up a glorious 
bunch of cuckoo-pint and marsh marigold, while little 
Hallin at her skirts waved another trophy of almost 
equal size. The mother's dark face was flushed with 
exercise and pleasure. As she moved over the grass, 
the long folds of a white dress falling about her, the 
flowers in her hand, the child beside her, she made a 
vision of beauty lovely in itself and lovely in all that 
it suggested. Frank joy and strength, happiness, pur- 
ity of heart — these entered with her. One could al- 
most see their dim heavenly shapes in the air about her. 

Neither Letty nor Mrs. Allison could take their 
eyes from her. Perhaps she knew it. But if she 
did, it made no difference to her perfect ease of 
bearing. She greeted Letty kindly. 

" You didn't expect to see me here, did you. Lady 
Tressady ? But it is the unexpected that happens." 

Then she put her hand on Mrs. Allison's shoulder, 
bending her height to her small hostess. 

"What a day, and what a place! Hallin and I 
have been over hill and dale. But he is getting such 
a botanist, the little monkey! He will hardly for- 
give me because I forgot one of the flowers we found 
out yesterday in his botany book." 

"She said it was ^ Robin-run-in-the-'edge,' and it 
isn't — it's 'edge mustard," said Hallin, severely, hold- 
ing up a little feathery stalk. 

Mrs. Allison shook her head, endeavouring to suit 
her look to the gravity of the offence. 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


"Mother must learn her lessons better, mustn't she? 
Go and shake hands, little man, with Lady Tressady." 

Hallin went gravely to do as he was told. Then 
he stood on one foot, and looked Letty over with a 
considering eye. 

"Are you going to a party?" he said suddenly, 
putting out a small and grimy finger, and pointing to 
her dress. 

" Hallin ! come here and have your tea," said his 
mother, hastily. Then she turned to Letty with the 
smile that had so often won Maxwell a friend. 

" I am sorry to say that he has a rooted objection 
to anything that isn't rags in the way of clothes. He 
entirely declined to take me across the river till I 
had rolled up my lace cloak and put it in a bush. 
And he won't really be friends with me again till we 
have both got back to the scarecrow garments we 
wear at home." 

" Oh ! children are so much happier when they are 
dirty," said Letty, graciously, pleased to feel herself 
on these easy terms with her two companions. " What 
beautiful flowers he has! and what an astonishing 
little botanist he seems to be!" 

And she seated herself beside Hallin, using all her 
blandishments to make friends with him, which, how- 
ever, did not prove to be an easy matter. For when 
she praised his flowers, Hallin only said, with his 
mouth full: "Oh! but mammy's bunch is hever so 
much bigger;" and when she offered him cake, the 
child would sturdily put the cake away, and hold it 
and her at arm's length till his mute look across the 
table had won his mother's nod of permission. 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


Letty at last thought him an odd, ill-mannered 
child, and gave up courting him, greatly to Hallin's 
satisfaction. He edged closer and closer to his mother, 
established himself finally in her pocket, and browsed 
on all the good things with which Mrs. Allison pro- 
vided him, undisturbed. 

"How late they are!" said Marcella, looking at 
her watch. " Tell me the names again, dear lady " — 
she bent forward, and laid her hand affectionately on 
Mrs. Allison's knee. "Your parties are always a 
work of art." 

Mrs. Allison flushed a little, as though she liked the 
compliment, and ran laughingly through the names. 

" Lord and Lady Maxwell." 

" Ah ! " said Marcella, " the least said about them 
the soonest mended. Go on." 

" Lord and Lady Cathedine." 

Marcella made a face. 

" Poor little thing ! I always think of the remark 
about the Queen in * Alice in Wonderland.' * A little 
kindness, and putting her hair in curl-papers, would do 
wonders for her.' She is so limp and thin and melan- 
choly. As for him — isn't there a race or a prize-fight 
we can send him to ? " 

Mrs. Allison tapped her lightly on the lips. 

" I won't go on unless my guests are taken prettily." 

Marcella kissed the delicate wrinkled hand. 

" I'll be good. What do you keep such an air here 
for ? It gets into one's head." 

Letty Tressady, indeed, was looking on with a feel- 
ing of astonishment. These merry, childlike airs had 
absolutely no place in her conception of Lady Max- 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


well. Nor could she know that Mrs. Allison was one 
of the very few people in the world to whom Marcella 
was ever drawn to show them. 

"Sir Philip Wentworth," pursued Mrs. Allison, 
smiling. " Say anything malicious about him, if you 
can ! " 

"Don't provoke me. What a mercy I brought a 
volume of 'Indian Studies' in my bag! I will go 
up early, before dinner, and finish them.'' 

"Then there is Madeleine Penley, and Elizabeth 

A quick involuntary expression crossed Marcella's 
face. Then she drew herself up with dignity, and 
crossed her hands primly on her lap. 

"Let me understand. Are you going to protect 
me from Lady Kent this time? Because, last time 
you threw me to the wolves in the most dastardly 

Mrs. Allison laughed out. 

"On the contrary, we all enjoyed your skirmish 
with her in November so much, we shall do our best 
to provoke another in May." 

Marcella shook her head. 

" I haven't the energy to quarrel with a fly. And 
as for Aldous — please warn his lady at dinner that 
he may go to sleep upon her shoulder ! " 

" You poor thing ! " — Mrs. Allison put out a sym- 
pathetic hand. "Are you so tired? Why will you 
turn the world upside down?" 

Marcella took the hand lightly in both hers. 

" Why will you fight reform ? " 

And the eyes of the two women met, not without a 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


sudden grave passion. Then Marcella dropped the 
hand, and said, smiling : 

" Castle Luton isn't full yet. Who else ? " 

"Oh ! some young folk — Charlie Naseby." 

"A nice boy — a very nice boy — not half such a 
coxcomb as he looks. Then the Levens — I know the 
Levens are coming, for Betty told me that she got out 
of two other engagements as soon as you asked her." 

"Oh! and, by the way, Mr. Watton — Harding 
Watton," said Mrs. Allison, turning slightly towards 
Lady Tressady. 

The exclamation on Lady Maxwell's lips was 
checked by something she saw on her hostess's face, 
and Letty eagerly struck in; 

"Harding coming?— r my cousin? I am so glad. 
I suppose I oughtn't to say it, but he is such a clever, 
such an agreeable, creature. But you know the Wat- 
tons, don't you. Lady Maxwell ? " 

Marcella was busying herself with Hallin's tea. 

" I know Edward Watton," she said, turning her 
beautiful clear look on Letty. " He is a real friend 
of mine." 

"Oh! but Harding is rrnich the cleverer," said 
Letty. And pleased both to find the ball of talk in 
her hands, and to have the chance of glorifying a re- 
lation in this world of people so much bigger than 
herself, she plunged into an extravagant account — 
all adjectives and superlatives — of Harding Watton's 
charms and abilities, to which Lady Maxwell listened 
in silence. 

" Tactless ! " thought Mrs, Allison, with vexation, 
but she did not know how to stop the stream. In 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


truth, since she had given Lord Fontenoy leave to in- 
vite Harding Watton she had had time to forget the 
invitation, and she was sorry now to think of his 
housing with the Maxwells. For Watton had been 
recently Lord Fontenoy's henchman and agent in a 
newspaper attack upon the Bill, and upon Maxwell 
personally, that even Mrs. Allison had thought violent 
and unfair. Well, it was not her fault. But Lady 
Tressady ought to have better information and better 
sense than to be chattering like this. She was just 
about to interpose, when Marcella held up her hand. 

" I hear the carriages ! " 

The hostess hastened towards the house, and Mar- 
cella followed her, with Hallin at her skirts. Letty 
looked after Lady Maxwell with the same mixture 
of admiration and jealous envy she had felt several 
times before. " I don't feel that I shall get on with 
her," she said to herself, impatiently. " But I don't 
think I want to. George took her measure at once." 

Part of this reflection, however, was not true. 
Letty's ambition would have been very glad to " get 
on " with Marcella Maxwell. 

Just as his wife was ready for dinner, and Grier 
had disappeared, George entered Letty's room. She 
was standing before a tall glass, putting the last 
touches to her dress — smoothing here, pinning there, 
turning to this side and to that. George, unseen him- 
self, stood and watched her — her alternate looks of 
anxiety and satisfaction, her grace, the shimmering 
folds of the magnificent wedding-dress in which she 
had adorned herself. 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


He, however, was neither happy nor gay. But he 
had come in feeling that he must make an effort — 
many efforts, if their young married life was to be 
brought back to that level of ease and pleasure which 
he had once taken for granted, and which now 
seemed so hard to maintain. If that ease and pleasure 
were ultimately to fail him, what should he do ? He 
shrank impatiently from the idea. Then he would 
scoff at himself. How often had he read and heard 
that the first year of marriage is the most difficult. 
Of course it must be so. Two individualities cannot 
fuse without turmoil, without heat. Let him only 
make his effort. 

So he walked up to her and caught her in his arms. 

" Oh, George ! — my hair ! — and my flowers ! " 

"Never mind," he said, almost with roughness. 
" Put your head there. Say you hate the thought of 
our day, as I do ! Say there shall never be one like 
it again ! Promise me ! " 

She felt the beating of his heart beneath her cheek. 
But she stood silent. His appeal, his unwonted agi- 
tation, revived in her all the anger and irritation 
that had begun to prey upon her thoughts. It was 
all very well, but why were they so pinched and un- 
comfortable ? Why must everybody — Mrs. Allison, 
Lady Maxwell, a hundred others — have more wealth, 
more scope, more consideration than she? It was 
partly his fault. 

So she gradually drew herself away, pushing him 
softly with her small gloved hand. 

"I am sure I hate quarrelling," she said. "But 
there! Oh, George! don't let's talk of it any more! 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


And look what you have done to my poor hair. You 
dear, naughty boy ! " 

But though she called him " Dear," she frowned as 
she took off her gloves that she might mend what he 
had done. 

George thrust his hands into his pockets, walked 
to the window, and waited. As he descended the 
great stairs in her wake he wished Castle Luton and 
its guests at the deuce. What pleasure was to be got 
out of grimacing and posing at these country-house 
parties ? And now, according to Letty, the Maxwells 
were here. A great gine for everybody ! 

VOL. I — B 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


"That lady sitting by Sir George? What! Lady 
Maxwell? No — the other side? Oh! that's Lady 
Leven. Don't you know her? She's tremendous 

And the dark-eyed, rosy-cheeked young man who 
was sitting beside Letty nodded and smiled across the 
table to Betty Leven, merely by way of reminding her 
of his existence. They had greeted before dinner — a 
greeting of comrades. 

Then he turned back, with sudden decorum, to this 
Lady Tressady, whom he had been commissioned to 
take in to dinner. "Quite pretty, but rather — well, 
ordinary ! " he said to himself, with a critical coolness 
bred of much familiarity with the best things of Vanity 
Fair. He had been Ancoats's friend at Cambridge, 
and was now disporting himself in the Guards, but 
still more — as Letty of course assumed — in the heart 
of the English well-born world. She knew that he 
was Lord Naseby, and that some day he would be a 
mkrquis. A halo, therefore, shone about him. At the 
same time, she had a long experience of young men, 
and, if she flattered him, it was only indirectly, by a 
sort of teasing aggression that did not allow him to 
take his attention from her. 

" I declare you are better than any peerage ! " she 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


said to him presently, when he had given her a short 
biography, first of Lord Cathedine, who was sitting 
opposite, then of various other members of the com- 
pany. " I should like to tie you to my fan when I go 
out to dinner." 

" Would you ? " said the young man, drily. " Oh ! 
you will soon know all you want to know." 

" How are poor little people from Yorkshire to find 
their way about in this big world ? You are all so 
dreadfully absorbed in each other. In the first place, 
you all marry each other." 

"Do we? — though I don't quite understand who 
* we ' means. Well, one must marry somebody, I sup- 
pose, and cousins are less trouble than other people." 

Involuntarily, the yoimg man's eyes travelled along 
the table to a fair girl on the opposite side, dazzlingly 
dressed in black. She was wielding a large fan of 
black feathers, which threw both hair and complexion 
into amazing relief; and she seemed to be amusing 
herself in a nervous, spasmodic way with Sir Frank 
Leven. Letty noticed his glance. 

"Oh! you have not earned your testimonial yet, 
not by any manner of means," she said. "That is 
Lady Madeleine Penley, isn't it ? Is she a relation 
of Mrs. Allison's ? " 

" She is a cousin. That is her mother. Lady Kent, 
sitting beside poor Ancoats. Such an old character ! 
By the end of dinner she will have got to the bottom 
of Ancoats, or know the reason why." 

"Is Lord Ancoats such a mystery?" said Letty, 
running an inquisitive eye over the black front, sharp 
nose, and gorgeously bejewelled neck of a somewhat 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


noisy and forbidding old lady sitting on the right 
hand of the host. 

Young Naseby's expression in answer rather piqued 
her. There was a quick flash of something that was 
instantly suppressed, and the youth said composedly, 

" Oh ! we are all mysteries for Lady Kent." 

But Letty noticed that his eyes strayed back to 
Lord Ancoats, and then again to Lady Madeleine. 
He seemed to be observing them, and Letty's sharp- 
ness at once took the hint. No doubt the handsome, 
large-featured girl was here to be " looked at." Prob- 
ably a good many maidens would be passed in review 
before this young Sultan made his choice! By the 
way he must be a good deal older than Greorge had 
imagined. Clearly he left college some time ago. 
What a curious face he had — a small, crumpled face, 
with very prominent blue eyes ; curly hair of a red- 
dish colour, piled high, as though for effect, above his 
white brow ; together with a sharp chin and pointed 
moustache, which gave him the air of an old French 
portrait. He was short in stature, but at the same 
time agile and strongly built. He wore one or two 
fine old rings, which drew attention to the delicacy of 
his hands; and his manner struck her as at once 
morose and excitable. Letty regarded him with in- 
voluntary respect as the son of Mrs. Allison — much 
more as the master of Castle Luton and fifty thousand 
a year. But if he had not been the master of Castle 
Luton she would have probably thought, and said, 
that he had a disagreeable Bohemian air. 

" Haven't you really made acquaintance with Lady 
Kent ? " said Lord Naseby, returning to the charge — 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


his laziness was somewhat at a loss for conversation. 
" I should have thought she was the person one could 
least escape knowing in the three kingdoms." 

" I have seen her, of course/' said Letty, lightly, 
though, alas! untruly. "But I am afraid you can 
hardly realise that I have only been three short 
seasons in London — two with an old aunt, who never 
goes out, in Cavendish Square, poor dull old dear! 
and another with Mrs. Watton, of Malford." 

"Oh! with Mrs. Watton, of Malford," said Lord 
Naseby, vaguely. Then he became suddenly aware 
that Lady Leven, on the other side of the table, was 
beckoning to him. He leant across, and they ex- 
changed a merry war of words about something of 
which Letty knew nothing. 

Letty, rather incensed, thought him a puppy, drew 
herself up, and looked round at the ex-Governor beside 
her. She saw a fine head, the worn yellow face and 
whitened hair of a man who has suffered under a hot 
climate, and an agreeable, though somewhat courtly, 
smile. Sir Philip Wentworth was not troubled with 
the boyish fastidiousness of Lord Naseby. He per- 
ceived merely that a pretty young woman wished to 
make friends with him, and met her wish at once. 
Moreover, he identified her as the wife of that " promis- 
ing and well-informed fellow, Tressady,'' with whom he 
had first made friends in India, and had now — just 
before dinner — renewed acquaintance in the most 
cordial fashion. 

He talked graciously to the wife, then, of Tressady's 
abilities and Tressady's career. Letty at first liked it. 
Then she was seized with a curious sense of discomfort. 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


Her eyes wandered towards the head of the table, 
where George was talking — why! actually talking 
earnestly, and as though he were enjoying himself, 
to Lady Maxwell, whose noble head and neck, rising 
from a silver white dress, challenged a great Grenoese 
Vandyck of a Marchesa Balbi which was hanging just 
behind her, and challenged it victoriously. 

So other people thought and said these things of 
George ? Letty was for a moment sharply conscious 
that they had not occupied much place in her mind 
since her marriage, or, for the matter of that, since 
her engagement. She had taken it for granted that 
he was " distinguished " — that was part of the bargain. 
Only, she never seemed as yet to have had either time 
or thought to give to those parts and elements in his 
life which led people to talk of him as this old Indian 
was doing. 

Curtains, carpets, gowns, cabinets; additions to 
Ferth ; her own effect in society ; how to keep Lady 
Tressady in her place — of all these things she had 
thought, and thought much. But George's honourable 
ambitions, the esteem in which he was held, the place 
he was to make for himself in the world of men — in 
thinking of these her mind was all stiff and unpractised. 
She was conscious first of a moral prick, then of a 
certain irritation with other people. 

Yet she could not help watching George wistfully. 
He looked tired and pale, in spite of the animation 
of his talk. Well! no doubt she looked pale too. 
Some of the words and phrases of their quarrel flashed 
across her. In this beautiful room, with its famous 
pictures and its historical associations, amid this 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


accumulated art and wealth, the whole thing was 
peculiarly odious to remember. Under the eyes of 
Vandyck's Marchesa one would have liked to think 
of oneself as always dignified and refined, always 
elegant and calm. 

Then Letty had a revulsion, and laughed at herself. 

"As if these people didn't have tempers, and 
quarrel about money! Of course they do! And if 
they don't — well, we all know how easy it is to be 
amiable on fifty thousand a year." 

After dinner Mrs. Allison led the way to the " Green 
Drawing-room." This room, hung with Gainsborough 
portraits, was one of the sights of the house, and to- 
night Marcella Maxwell especially looked round her 
on entering it, with enchantment. 

"You happy people!" she said to Mrs. Allison. 
"I never come into this room without anxiously 
asking myself whether I am fit to make one of the 
company. I look at my dress, or I am doubtful about 
my manners, or I wish someone had taught me to 
dance the minuet!" 

"Yes," said Betty Leven, running up to a vast 
picture, a life-size family group, which covered the 
greater part of the farther wall of the room. " What 
a vulgar, insignificant chit one feels oneseK without 
cap or powder !— without those ruffles, or those tippets, 
or those quilted petticoats! Mrs. Allison, may my 
maid come down to-morrow while we are at dinner 
and take the pattern of those ruffles ? No — no ! she 
shaVt! Sacrilege! You pretty thing!" she said, 
addressing a figure — the figure of a girl in white 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


with thin virginal arms and bust, who seemed to be 
coming out of the picture, almost to be already out of 
it and in the room. " Come and talk to me. Don't 
think any more of your father and mother there. You 
have been curtsying to them for a himdred years ; and 
they are rather dull, stupid people, after all. Come 
and tell us secrets. Tell us what you have seen in 
this room — all the foolish people making love, and 
the sad people saying good-bye." 

Betty was kneeling on a carved chair, her pretty 
arms leaning on the back of it, her eyes fixed half 
in laughter, half in sentiment, on the figure in the 

Lady Maxwell suddenly moved closer to her, and 
Letty heard her say in a low voice, as she put her 
hand on Lady Leven's arm : 

" Don't, Betty ! donH ! It was in this room he pro- 
posed to her, and it was in this room he said good- 
bye. Maxwell has often told me. I believe she never 
comes in here alone — only for ceremony and when 
there is a crowd." 

A look of consternation crossed Lady Leven's lively 
little face. She glanced shyly towards Mrs. Allison. 
That lady had moved hastily away from the group in 
front of the picture. She was sitting by herself, look- 
ing straight before her, with a certain stiffness, her 
thin hands crossed on her knee. Betty impetuously 
went towards her, and was soon sitting on a stool 
beside her, chattering to her and amusing her. 

Meanwhile Marcella invited Lady Tressady to come 
and sit with her on a sofa beneath the great picture. 

Letty followed her, settled her satin skirts in their 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


most graceful folds, put one little foot on a Louis 
Quinze footstool which seemed to invite it, and then 
began to inform herself about the house and the 

At the beginning of their talk it was clear that Lady 
Maxwell wished to ingratiate herself. A friendly 
observer would have thought that she was trying to 
make a stranger feel more at ease in this house and 
circle, where she herself was a familiar guest. Betty 
Leven, catching sight of the pair from the other side 
of the room, said to herself, with inward amusement, 
that Marcella was " realising the wife." 

At any rate, for some time Lady Maxwell talked 
with sympathy, with effusion even, to her companion. 
In the first place she told her the story of their 

Thiriy years before, Mrs. Allison, the daughter and 
heiress of a Leicestershire squire, had married Henry 
Allison, old Lord Ancoats's second son, a young cap- 
tain in the Guards. They enjoyed three years of 
life together; then the chances of a soldier's career, 
as interpreted by two high-minded people, took Henry 
Allison out to an obscure African coast, to fight one 
of the innumerable " little wars '' of his country. He 
fell, struck by a spear, in a single-file march through 
some nameless swamp; and a few days afterwards the 
words of a Foreign Office telegram broke a pining 
woman's heart. 

Old Lord Ancoats's death, which followed within a 
month or two, was hastened by the shock of his son's 
loss ; and before the year was out the eldest son, who 
was sickly and unmarried, also died, and Mrs. Allison's 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


boy, a child of two, became the owner of Castle 
Luton. The mother saw herself called upon to fight 
down her grief, to relinquish the quasi-religious life 
she had entered upon, and instead to take her boy to 
the kingdom he was to rule, and bring him up there. 

" And for twenty-two years she has lived a wonder- 
ful life here," said Marcella; " she has been practically 
the queen of a whole countryside, doing whatever she 
pleased, the mother and friend and saint of everybody. 
It has been all very paternal and beautiful, and — 
abominably Tory and tyrannous! Many people, I 
suppose, think it perfect. Perhaps I don't. But 
then, I know very well I can't possibly disagree with 
her a tenth part as strongly as she disagrees with 

"Oh! but she admires you so much," cried Letty, 
with effusion ; " she thinks you mean so nobly ! " 

Marcella opened her eyes, involuntarily wondering 
a little what Lady Tressady might know about it. 

"Oh! we don't hate each other," she said, rather 
drily, "in spite of politics. And my husband was 
Ancoats's guardian." 

"Dear me ! " said Letty. " I should think it wasn't 
easy to be guardian to fifty thousand a year." 

Marcella did not answer — did not, indeed, hear. 
Her look had stolen across to Mrs. Allison — a sad, 
affectionate look, in no way meant for Lady Tressady. 
But Letty noticed it. 

" I suppose she adores him," she said. 

Marcella sighed. 

"There was never anything like it. It frightens 
one to see." 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


" And that, of course, is why she won't marry Lord 
Fontenoy ? " 

Marcella started, and drew away from her com- 

^•I don't know," she said stiffly; "and I am sure 
that no one ever dared to ask her." 

"Oh! but. of course it's what everyone says," said 
Letty, gay and unabashed. "That's what makes it so 
exciting to come here, when one knows Lord Fontenoy 
so very well." 

Marcella met this remark with a discouraging 

Letty, however, was determined this time to mak^ 
her impression. She plunged into a lively, and often 
audacious gossip about every person in the room in 
turn, asking a number of intimate or impertinent 
questions, and yet very seldom waiting for Marcella's 
reply, so anxious was she to show off her own informa- 
tion and make her own comments. She let Marcella 
understand that she suspected a great deal, in the 
matter of that handsome Lady Madeleine. It was 
immensely interesting, of course; but wasn't Lord 
Ancoats a trifle wild ? — she bent over and whispered 
in Marcella's ear ; was it likely that he would settle 
himself so soon? — didn't one hear sad tales of his 
theatrical friends and the rest ? And what could one 
expect ! As if a young man in such a position was 
not certain to have his fling ! And his mother would 
have to put up with it. After all, men quieted down 
at last. Look at Lord Cathedine ! 

And with an air of boundless knowledge she touched 
upon the incidents of Lord Cathedine's career, hashing 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


up, with skilful deductions of her own, all that Lord 
Naseby had said or hinted to her at dinner. Pooi 
Lady Cathedine ! didn't she look a walking skeleton, 
with her strange, melancholy face, and every bone 
showing ? Well, who could wonder ! And when one 
thought of their money difficulties, too ! 

Lady Tressady lifted her white shoulders in com- 

By this time Marcella's black eyes were wandering 
insistently round the room, searching for means of 
escape. Betty, far away, noticed her air, and con- 
cluded that the "realisation" was making rapid, too 
rapid, progress. Presently, with a smiling shake of 
her little head, she left her own seat and went to her 
friend's assistance. 

At the same moment Mrs. Allison, driven by her 
conscience as a hostess, got up for the purpose of intro- 
ducing Lady Tressady to a lady in grey who had been 
sitting quiet, and, as Mrs. Allison feared, lonely, in a 
corner, looking over some photographs. Marcella, who 
had also risen, put out a hand to Betty, and the two 
moved away together. 

They stopped on the threshold of a large window at 
the side of the room, which stood wide open to the 
night. Outside, beyond a broad flight of steps, stretched 
a formal Dutch garden. Its numberless small beds, 
forming stiff scrolls and circles on a ground of white 
gravel, lay in bright moonlight. Even the colours of 
the hyacinths and tulips with which they were planted 
could be seen, and the strong scent from them filled 
the still air. At the far end of this flat-patterned place 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


a group of tail cypress and ilex, black against the sky, 
struck a note of Italy and the South ; while, through 
the yew hedges which closed in the little garden, broad 
archways pierced at intervals revealed far breadths of 
silvery English lawn and the distant gleam of the river. 

" Well, my dear," said Betty, laughing, and slipping 
her arm through Marcella's as they stood in the open- 
ing of the window, " I see you have been doing your 
duty for once. Let me pat you on the back. All the 
more that I gather you are not exactly enchanted with 
Lady Tressady. You really should keep your face in 
order. From the other end of the room I know exactly 
what you think of the person you are talking to." 

" Do you ? " said Marcella, penitently. " I wish you 

" Well you may wish it, for it doesn't help the polit- 
ical lady to get what she wants. However, I don't 
think that Lady Tressady has found out yet that you 
don't like her. She isn't thin-skinned. If you had 
looked like that when you were talking to me, I would 
have paid you out somehow. What is the matter with 

"Oh! I don't know," said Marcella, impatiently, 
raising her shoulders. "But she jarred. I pined to 
get away — I don't think I ever want to talk to her 

"No," said Betty, ruminating; "I'll tell you what 
it is — she isn't a gentleman! Don't interrupt me! 
I mean exactly what I say — sJie isnH a gentleman. 
She would do and say all the things that a nice man 
squirms at. I always have the oddest fancy about 
that kind of person. I see them as they must be at 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


night — all the fine clothes gone — just a little black 
soul scrawled between the bedclothes ! " 

" You to call me censorious ! " said Marcella, laugh- 
ing, and pinching her friend's arm. 

" My dear, as I have often before remarked to you, 
I am not a great lady, with a political campaign to 
fight. If you knew your business, you would make 
friends with the mammon of unrighteousness in the 
shape of Lady Tressadys. / may do what I please — I 
have only a husband to manage ! " and Betty's light 
voice dropped into a sigh. 

" Poor Betty ! " said Marcella, patting her hand. 
"Is Frank as discontented as ever?" 

" He told me yesterday he hated his existence, and 
thought he would try whether the Serpentine would 
drown him. I said I was agreeable, only he would 
never achieve it without me. I should have to 'tice 
away the police while he looked for the right spot. 
So he has promised to take me into partnership, and 
it's all right so far." 

Then Betty fell to sighing in earnest. 

" It's all very well ^ chafl&ng,' but I am a miserable 
woman. Erank says I have ruined his life ; that it's 
all my ambition ; that he might have made a decent 
country gentleman if I hadn't sown the seed of every 
vice in him by driving him into politics. Pleasant, 
isn't it, for a model wife like me ? " 

"You'll have to let him give it up," said Marcella, 
smiling; "I don't believe he'll ever reconcile himself 
to the grind and the town life." 

Betty clenched her small hands. 

" My dear ! I never promised to marry a sporting 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


boor, and I can't yet make up my mind to sink to it. 
Don't let's talk of it! I only hope he'll vote straight 
in the next few months. But the thought of being 
kept through August drives him desperate already. 
Ah ! here they are — plagues of the human race ! — " 
and she waved an accusing hand towards the incom- 
ing stream of gentlemen. "Now, I'll prophesy, and 
you watch. Lady Tressady will make two friends 
here — Harding Watton — oh! I forgot, he's her 
cousin ! — and Lord Cathedine. Mark my words. By 
the way — " Betty caught Marcella's arm and spoke 
eagerly into her friend's ear. Her eyes meanwhile 
glanced over her shoulder towards Lady Madeleine 
and her mother, who were seated on the farther side 
of the room. 

Marcella's look followed Betty's, but she showed 
no readiness to answer Betty's questions. When 
Letty had made her astonishing remarks on the sub- 
ject of Madeleine Penley, Lady Maxwell had tried to 
stop her with a hauteur which would have abashed 
most women, though it had but small effect on the 
bride. And now, even to Betty, who was Madeleine 
Penley's friend, Marcella was not communicative; 
although when Betty was carried off by Lord Naseby 
who came in search of her as soon as he entered the 
drawing-room, the elder woman stood for a moment 
by the window, watching the girl they had been talk- 
ing of with a soft serious look. 

But the softness passed. A slight incident dis- 
turbed it. For the spectator saw Lady Kent, who 
was sitting beside her daughter, raise a gigantic fan 
and beckon to Lord Ancoats. He came unwillingly, 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


and she made some bantering remark. Lady Made- 
leine meanwhile was bending over a book of photo- 
graphs, with a flushed cheek and a look of constraint. 
Ancoats stood near her for a moment uneasily, frown- 
ing and pulling at his moustache. Then with an 
abrupt word to Lady Kent, he turned away and threw 
himself on a sofa beside Lord Cathedine. Lady Made- 
leine bent lower over her book, her beautiful hair mak- 
ing a spot of fire in the room. Marcella caught the 
expression of her profile, and her own face took a look 
of pain. She would have liked to go instantly to the 
girl's side, with some tenderness, some caress. But 
that gorgon Lady Kent, now looking extremely fierce, 
was in the way, and moreover other young men had 
arrived to take the place Ancoats had apparently, 

Meanwhile Letty saw the arrival of the gentlemen 
with delight. She had found but small entertain- 
ment in the lady to whom Mrs. Allison had intro- 
duced her. Miss Paston, the sister of Lord Ancoats's 
agent, was a pleasant-looking spinster of thirty-five 
in a Quakerish dress of grey silk. Her face bore wit- 
ness that she was capable and refined. But Letty 
felt no desire whatever to explore capability and 
refinement. She had not come to Castle Luton to 
make herself agreeable to Miss Paston. 

So the conversation languished. Letty yawned a 
little, and flourished her fan a great deal, till the 
appearance of the men brought back the flush to her 
cheek and animation to her eye. She drew herself 
up at once, hungry for notice and success. Mrs. 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


Hawkins, the vicar's wife at Malford, would have been 
avenged could she have watched her old tyrant under 
these chastening circumstances. 

Harding Watton crossed the room when he saw his 
cousin, and took the corner of the sofa beside her. 
Letty received him graciously, though she was per- 
haps disappointed that it was not Lord Ancoats or 
Lord Cathedine. Looking round before she gave her- 
self to conversation with him, she saw that George 
was standing near the open window with Lord Max- 
well and Sir Philip Wentworth, the ex-Governor. 
They were talking of India, and Sir Philip had his 
hand on George's arm. 

"Yes, I saw Dalhousie go," he said eagerly. "I 
was only a lad of twenty, but I can't think of it now 
without a lump in my throat. When he limped on to 
the Hooghly landing-stage on his crutches we couldn't 
cheer him — I shall never forget that sudden silence I 
In eight years he had made a new India, and there 
we saw him, — our little hero, — dying of his work at 
forty-six before our eyes ! . . . Well, I couldn't have 
imagined that a young man like you would have 
known or cared so much about that time. What a 
talk we have had! Thank you!" 

And the veteran tightened his grip cordially for a 
moment on Tressady's arm, then dropped it and 
walked away. 

Tressady threw his wife a bright glance, as though 
to ask her how she fared. Letty smiled graciously in 
reply, feeling a sudden softening pleasure in being so 
thought of. As her eyes met her husband's she saw 
Marcella Maxwell, who was still standing by the win- 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


dow, turn towards George and call to him. George 
moved forward with alacrity. Then he and Lady 
Maxwell slowly walked down the steps to the garden, 
and disappeared through one of the archways to the 

" That great lady and George seem at last to have 
made friends," said Harding Watton to Letty, in a 
laughing undertone. " I have no doubt she is trying 
to win him over. Well she may! Before the next 
few weeks are over the Government will be in a fix 
with this Bill; and not even their ^beautiful lady' 
will help them out. Maxwell looks as glum as an 
owl to-night." 

Letty laughed. The situation pleased her vanity a 
good deal. The thought of Lady Maxwell humiliated 
and defeated — partly by George's means — was de- 
cidedly agreeable to her. Which would seem to show 
that she was, after all, more sensitive or more quick- 
eyed than Betty Leven had been ready to allow. 

Meanwhile Marcella and George Tressady were 
strolling slowly towards the river, along a path that 
crossed the great lawns. In front of them the stretches 
of grass, bathed in silvery light and air, ran into far 
distances of shade under majestic trees just thicken- 
ing to a June wealth of foliage. Below, these distant 
tree-masses made sharp capes and promontories on 
the white grass; above, their rounded tops rose dark 
against a blue, light-breathing sky. At one point 
the river pierced the blackness of the wood, and in 
the space thus made the spire of a noble church shot 
heavenward. Swans floated dimly along the stream 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


and under the bridge. The air was fresh, but the 
rawness of spring was gone. It was the last week 
of May; the "high midsummer pomps" were near — 
a heavenly prophecy in wood and field. 

And not even Tressady^s prejudice — which, in- 
deed, was already vanishing — could fail to see in 
the beautiful woman beside him the fitting voice and 
spirit of such a scene. 

To-night he said to himself that one must needs 
believe her simple, in spite of report. During their 
companionship this evening she had shown him more 
and more plainly that she liked his society ; her man- 
ner towards him, indeed, had by now a soft surrender 
and friendliness that no man could possibly have met 
with roughness, least of all a man young and ambi- 
tious. But at the same time he noticed again, as he 
had once noticed with anger, that she was curiously 
free from the usual feminine arts and wiles. After 
their long talk at dinner, indeed, he began, in spite 
of himself, to feel her not merely an intellectual com- 
rade, — that he had been conscious of from the first, — 
but rather a most winning and attaching companion. 
It was a sentiment of friendly ease, that seemed to 
bring with it a great relief from tension. The sordid 
cares and frictions of the last few weeks, and the 
degrading memories of the day itself, alike ceased to 
wear him. 

Yet all the time he said to himself, with inward 
amusement, that he must take care! They had not 
talked directly of the Bill at dinner, but they had 
talked round and about it incessantly. It was clear 
that the Maxwells were personally very anxious; and 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


George knew well that the public position of the 
Ministry was daily becoming more difficult. There 
had been a marked cooling on the subject of the Bill 
among their own supporters ; one or two London mem- 
bers originally pledged to it were even believed to be 
wavering; and this campaign lately started by Eon- 
tenoy and Watton against two of the leading clauses 
of the measure, in a London "daily/' bought for the 
purpose, had been so far extremely damaging. The 
situation was threatening indeed, and Maxwell might 
well look harassed. 

Yet Tressady had detected no bitterness in Lady 
Maxwell's mood. Her temper rather seemed to him 
very strenuous, very eager, and a little sad. Alto- 
gether, he had been touched, he knew not exactly 
why, by his conversation with her. "We are going 
to win," he said to himself, "and she knows it." 
Yet to think thus gave him, for the first time, no 
particular pleasure. 

As they strolled along they talked a little of some 
of the topics that had been started at dinner, topics 
semi-political and semi-social, till suddenly Lady 
Maxwell said, with a change of voice: 

" I heard some of your conversation with Sir Philip 
just now. How differently you talk when you talk of 

"I wonder what that means," said George, smiling. 
"It means, at any rate, that when I am not talking 
of India, but of English labour, or the poor, you 
think I talk like a brute." 

"I shouldn't put it like that," she said quietly. 
"But when you talk of India, and people like the 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


Lawrences or Lord Dalhousie, then it is that one 
sees what you really admire — what stirs you — 
what makes you feel." 

"Well, ought I not to feel? Is there to be no 
gratitude towards the people that have made one's 

He looked down upon her gaily, perfectly conscious 
of his own tickled vanity. To be observed and ana- 
lysed by such a critic was in itself flattery. 

"That have made one's country?" she repeated, 
not without a touch of irony. Then suddenly she 
became silent. 

George thrust his hands into his pockets and waited 
a little. 

" Well? " he said presently. " Well? I am waiting 
to hear you prove that the Dalhousies and the Law- 
rences have done nothing for the country, compared 
to — what shall we say? — some trade-union secretary 
whom you particularly admire." 

She laughed, but he did not immediately draw his 
answer. They had reached the river-bank and the 
steps of the little bridge. Marcella mounted the 
bridge and paused midway across it, hanging over 
the parapet. He followed her, and both stood gazing 
at the house. It rose from the grass like some fabric 
of yellowish ivory cut and scrolled and fretted by 
its Tudor architect, who had been also a goldsmith. 
There were lights like jewels in its latticed win- 
dows ; the dark fulness of the trees, disposed by an 
artist-hand, enwrapped or fell away from it as the 
eye required ; and on the dazzling lawns, crossed by 
soft bands of shadow, scattered forms moved up and 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


down — women in trailing dresses, and black-coated 
men. There were occasional sallies of talk and 
laughter, and from the open window of the drawing- 
room came the notes of a violin. 

" Brahms ! " said Marcella, with delight. " Nothing 
but music and he could express this night — or the 
river — or the rising glow and bloom of everything.'' 

As she spoke George felt a quick gust of pleasure and 
romance sweep across him. It was as though senses 
that had been for long on the defensive, tired, or 
teased merely by the world, gave way in a moment to 
joy and poetry. He looked from the face beside him 
to the pictured scene in which they stood — the soft 
air filled his lungs — what ailed him? — he only knew 
that after many weeks he was, somehow, happy and 
buoyant again! 

Lady Maxwell, however, soon forgot the music and 
the moonlight. 

"That have made one's country?" she repeated, 
pausing on the words. "And of course that house 
appeals to you in the same way? Famous people 
have lived in it — people who belong to history. But 
for me, the real making of one's country is done out 
of sight, in garrets and workshops and coalpits, by 
people who die every minute — forgotten — swept into 
heaps like autumn leaves, their lives mere soil and 
foothold for the generation that comes after them. 
All yesterday morning, for instance, I spent trying to 
feed a woman I know. She is a shirtmaker; she has 
four children, and her husband is a docker out of 
work. She had sewed herself sick and blind. She 
couldn't eat, and she couldn't sleep. But she had 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


kept the children alive — and the man. Her life will 
flicker out in a month or two; but the children's lives 
will have taken root, and the man will be eating and 
earning again. What use would your Dalhousies and 
Lawrences be to England without her and the hun- 
dreds of thousands like her?" 

"And yet it is you," cried George, unable to for- 
bear the chance she gave him, " who would take away 
from this very woman the power of feeding her chil- 
dren and saving her husband — who would spoil all 
the lives in the clumsy attempt to mend one of 
them. How can you quote me such an instance! 
It amazes me." 

"Not at all. I have only to use my instance for 
another purpose, in another way. You are thinking 
of the Bill, of course? But all we do is to say to 
some of these victims, 'Your sacrifice, as it stands, is 
too costly; the State in its own interest cannot go on 
exacting or allowing it. We will help you to serve 
the community in ways that shall exhaust and wound 
it less.'" 

"And as a first step, drive you all comfortably into 
the workhouse! " said George. "Don't omit that." 

"Many individuals must suffer," she said steadily. 
"But there will be friends to help — friends that will 
strain every nerve to help." 

All her heart showed itself in voice and emphasis. 
Almost for the first time in their evening's talk her 
natural passionateness came to sight — the Southern, 
impulsive temper, that so often made people laugh at 
or dislike her. Under the lace shawl she had thrown 
round her on coming out he saw the quick rise and 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


fall of the breast, the nervous clasp of the hands 
lying on the stonework of the bridge. These were 
her prophetess airs again. To-night they still amused 
him, but in a gentler and more friendly way. 

" And so, according to your own account, you will 
protect your tailoress and unmake your country. I 
am sorry for your dilemma," he said, laughing. 

"Ah! well," — she shrugged her shoulders with a 
sigh, — "don't let's talk of it. It's all too pressing 
— and sore — and hot. And to think of the weeks 
that are just coming on!" 

George, hanging over the parapet beside her, felt 
reply a little awkward, and said nothing. For a min- 
ute or two the night made itself heard, the gentle 
slipping of the river, the fitful breathings from the 
trees. A swan passed and repassed below them, and 
an owl called from the distant woods. 

Presently Marcella lifted a white finger and pointed 
to the house. 

"One wouldn't want a better parable," she said. 
"It's like the State as you see it — magnificent, 
inspiring, a thing of pomp and dignity. But we 
women, who have to drive and keep going a house 
like that — we know what it all rests upon. It rests 
upon a few tired kitchen-maids and boot-boys and 
scullery-girls, hurrying, panting creatures, whom a 
guest never sees, who really run it all. I know, for 
I have tried to unearth them, to organise them, to 
make sure that no one was fainting while we were 
feasting. But it is incredibly hard; half the human 
race believes itself born to make things easy for the 
other half. It comes natural to them to ache and toil 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


while we sit in easy chairs. What they resent is that 
we should try to change it." 

"Groodness!" said George, pulling at his mous- 
taches. "I don't recognise my own experience of 
the ordinary domestic polity in that summary." 

"I daresay. You have to do with the upper ser- 
vant, who is always a greater tyrant than his master," 
she retorted, her voice expressing a curious medley of 
laughter and feeling. " I am speaking of the people 
that are not seen, like the tailoress and shirtmaker, 
in your drum-and-trumpet State." 

" Well, you may be right, " said George, drily. " But 
I confess — if I may be quite frank — that I don't 
altogether trust you to judge. I want at least, before 
I strike the balance between my Dalhousie and your 
tailoress, to hear what those people have to say who 
have not crippled their minds — by pity ! " 

**Pity!" she said, her lip trembling in spite of 
herself. "Pity! — you count pity a disease?" 

"As you — and others — practise it," he replied 
coolly, turning round upon her. "It is no good; 
the world can't be run by pity. At least, living 
always seems to me a great brutal, rushing, rough- 
and-tumble business, which has to be carried on 
whether we like it or no. To be too careful, too 
gingerly over the separate life, brings it all to a 
standstill. Meddle too much, and the Demiurge who 
set the machine going turns sulky and stops working. 
Then the nation goes to pieces — till some strong ruff- 
ian without a scruple puts it together again." 

"What do you mean by the Demiurge?" 

He laughed. 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


"Why do you make me explain my flights? Well, 
I suppose, the natural daimonic power in things, 
which keeps them going and set them off; which is 
not us, or like us, and cares nothing for us." 

His light voice developed a sudden energy during 
his little speech. 

"Ah!" said Marcella, wistfully. "Yes, if one 
thought that, I could understand. But, even so, if 
the power behind things cares nothing for us, I 
should only regard it as challenging us to care more 
for each other. Do you mind my asking you a few 
plain questions? Do you know anything personally 
of the London poor? I mean, have you any real 
friends among them, whose lives you know?" 

" Well, I sit with Eontenoy while he receives depu- 
tations from all those tailoresses and shirtmakers and 
fur-sewers that you want to put in order. The har- 
assed widow streams through his room perpetually — 
wailing to be let alone ! " 

Marcella made a sound of amused scorn. 

"Oh! you think that nothing," said Greorge, indig- 
nant. " I vow I could draw every type of widow that 
London contains — I know them intimately." 

She shook her head. 

" I give up London. Then, in the North, aren't you 
a coal-owner? Do you know your miners? " 

"Yes, and I detest them!" said Gteorge, shortly; 
"pig-headed brutes! They will be on strike next 
month, and I shall be defrauded of my lawful income 
till their lordships choose to go back. Pity me, if 
you please — not them!" 

"So I do," she said with spirit — "if you hate the 
men by whom you live I " 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


There was silence. Then suddenly George said, in 
another tone : 

" But sometimes, I don't deny, the beggars wring it 
out of one — your pity. I saw a mother last week — 
Suppose we stroll on a little. I want to see how the 
river gets out of the wood." 

They descended the bridge, and turned again into 
the river-path. Greorge told the story of Mary 
Batchelor in his half -ironic way, yet so that here 
and there Marcella shivered. Then gradually, as 
though it were a relief to him to talk, he slipped 
into a half-humorous, half-serious discussion of his 
mine-owner's position and its difficulties. Incident- 
ally and unconsciously a good deal of his history 
betrayed itself in his talk: his bringing-up, his 
mother; the various problems started in his mind 
since his return from India; even his relations to his 
wife. Once or twice it flashed, across him that he 
was confessing himself with an extraordinary frank- 
ness to a woman he had made up his mind to dislike. 
But the reflection did not stop him. The balmy night, 
the solitude, this loveliness that walked beside him so 
willingly and kindly — with every step they struck his 
defences from him ; they drew ; they penetrated. 

With her, too, everything was simple and natural. 
She had felt his attraction at their first meeting ; she 
had determined to make a friend of him; and she was 
succeeding. As he disclosed himself she felt a strange 
compassion for him. It was plain to her woman's in- 
stinct that he was at heart lonely and uncompanioned. 
Well, what wonder with that hard, mean little being 
for a wife I Had she captured him, or had he thrown 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


himself away upon her in mere wantonness, out of 
that defiance of sentiment which appeared to be his 
favourite parti-prisf In any case, it seemed to this 
happy wife that he had done the one fatal and irrep- 
arable thing; and she was genuinely sorry for him. 
She felt him very young, too. As far as she could 
gather, he was about two years her junior; but her 
feeling made the gap much greater. 

Yet, of course, the situation, — Maxwell, Fontenoy, 
— all that those names implied to him and her, made 
a thrilling under-note in both their minds. She 
never forgot her husband and his straits ; and in 
George's mind Fontenoy's rugged figure stood senti- 
nel. Given the circumstances, both her temperament 
and her affections drove her inevitably into trying, 
first to attract, then to move and influence her com- 
panion. And given the circumstances, he could but 
yield himself bit by bit to her woman's charm ; 
while full all the time of a confident scorn for her 

Insensibly, the stress upon them drew them back to 
London and to current affairs, and at last she said to 
him, with vehemence : 

" You must see these people in the flesh — and not 
in your house, but in theirs. Or, first come and meet 
them in mine?" 

" Why, please, should you think St. James's Square 
a palace of truth compared to Carlton House Ter- 
race?" he asked her, with amusement. Fontenoy 
lived in Carlton House Terrace. 

"I am not inviting you to St. James's Square," she 
said quietly. " That house is only my home for one 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


set of purposes. Just now my true home is not there 
at all. It is in the Mile End Road." 

George asked to be informed, and opened his eyes 
at her account of the way in which she still divided 
her time between the West End and the East, spend- 
ing always one or two nights a week among the trades 
and the work-people she had come to know so inti- 
mately, whose cause she was fighting with such per- 

"Maxwell doesn't come now," she said. "He is 
too busy, and his work there is done. But I go 
because I love the people, and to talk with them and 
live with them part of every week keeps one's mind 
clear as to what one wants, and why. Well," — her 
voice showed that she smiled, — " will you come? My 
old maid shall give you coffee, and you shall meet a 
roomful of tailors and shirtmakers. You shall see 
what people look like in the flesh — not on paper — 
after working fourteen hours at a stretch, in a room 
where you and I could not breathe ! " 

"Charming!" — he bowed ironically. "Of course 
I will come." 

They had paused under the shadow of a grove of 
beech-trees, and were looking back towards the moon- 
lit garden and the house. Suddenly George said, in 
an odd voice : 

"Do you mind my saying it? You know, nobody 
is ever converted — politically — nowadays." 

In the darkness her flush could not be seen. But 
he felt the mingled pride and soreness in her voice, 
under its forced brightness. 

" I know. How long is it since a speech turned a 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


vote in the House of Commons ! One wonders why 
people take the trouble to speak. Shall we go back? 
Ah! there is someone pursuing us — my husband and 
Ancoats ! '' 

And two figures, dark for an instant against the 
brightness of the lawns, plunged into the shadow of 
the wood. 

"You wanderers !'' said Maxwell, as he distin- 
guished his wife's white dress. "Is this path 
quite safe in this darkness? Suppose we get out 
of it." 

The river, indeed, beneath a steep bank, ran close 
beside them, and the trees meeting overhead all but 
shut out the moon. Maxwell, in some anxiety, caught 
his wife's arm, and made her pause till his eye should 
be once more certain of the path. Meanwhile Ancoats 
and Tressady walked quickly back to the lawn, An- 
coats talking and laughing with unusual vigour. 

The Maxwells did not hurry themselves. As they 
emerged from the wood Marcella slipped her hand 
into her husband's. It was her characteristic caress. 
The slim, strong hand loved to feel itself in the 
shelter of his ; while to him that seeking touch was 
the symbol of all that she brought him — the inven- 
tive, inexhaustible arts of a passion which was a kind 
of genius. 
"Don't go in! " she pleaded. "Why should we?" 
"No! — why should we?" he repeated, sighing. 
"Why are we here at all? — that is what I have 
been asking myself all the evening. And now more 
than ever since my walk with that boy Ancoats." 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


"Tell me about it,'' she said eagerly. «* Could you 
get nothing out of him? " 

Maxwell shrugged his shoulders. 

"Nothing. He vows that everything is all right; 
that he knows a pack of slanderers have been 'yelp- 
ing at him, ' and he wishes both they and his mother 
would let him alone." 

" His mother ! " cried Marcella, outraged. 

"Well, I suppose I said to him the kind of thing 
you would evidently like to say. But with no result. 
He merely laughed, and chattered about everything 
under the sun — his race-horses, new plays, politics — 
Heaven knows what! He is in an excited state — 
feverish, restless, and, I should think, unhappy. But 
he would tell nothing — to me." 

"How much do you think she knows?" 

"His mother? Nothing, I should say. Every now 
and then I detect a note of extra anxiety when she 
talks to him; and there is evidently something in 
her mind, some impression from his manner, perhaps, 
which is driving her more keenly than ever towards 
this marriage. But I don't believe a single one of 
the stories that have reached us has reached her. 
And now — here is this poor girl — and even my dull 
eyes have noticed that to-night he has purposely, 
markedly, avoided her." 

Marcella felt her cheek flame. 

" And when one thinks of his behaviour in the win- 
ter!" she cried. 

They wandered on along a path that skirted the wood, 
talking anxiously about the matter which had in truth 
brought them to Castle Luton. In spite of the com- 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


parative gentleness of English political relations, 
neither Maxwell nor Marcella, perhaps, would will- 
ingly have become Charlotte Allison's guests at a 
moment when her house was actually the headquar- 
ters of a violent and effective opposition to MaxwelPs 
policy, when moreover the leader of that opposition 
was likely to be of the party. But about a fortnight 
before Whitsuntide some tales of young Ancoats had 
suddenly reached Maxwell's ears, with such effect that 
on his next meeting with Ancoats's mother he practi- 
cally invited himself and Marcella — greatly to Mrs. 
Allison's surprise — to CaStle Luton for Whitsuntide. 

Eor the boy had been Maxwell's ward, and Henry 
Allison had been the intimate friend and comrade of 
MaxwelPs father. And Maxwell's feeling for his 
father, and for his father's friends, was of such a 
kind that his guardian's duties had gone deep with 
him. He had done his best for the boy, and since 
Ancoats had reached his majority his ex-guardian 
had still kept him anxiously in mind. 

Of late indeed Ancoats had troubled himself very 
little about his guardian, or his guardian's anxieties. 
He seemed to have been devoting a large share of his 
mind to the avoidance of his mother's old friends; 
and the Maxwells, for months, in spite of many 
efforts on their part, had seen little or nothing of 
him. Maxwell for various reasons had begun to 
suspect a number of uncomfortable things with regard 
to the young fellow's friends and pleasures. Yet 
nothing could be taken hold of till this sudden emer- 
gence of a particular group of stories, coupling An- 
coats^s name with that of a notorious little actress 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


whose adventures had already provided a certain class 
of newspaper with abundant copy. 

Then Maxwell, who cared personally very little for 
the red-haired youth himself, took alarm for the 
mother's sake. For in the case of Mrs. Allison a 
scandal of the kind suggested meant a tragedy. Her 
passion for her son was almost a tragedy already, so 
closely mingled in it were the feelings of the mother 
and those of the Christian, to whom " vice " is not 
an amusement, but an agony. 

Yet, as Marcella said and felt, it was a hard fate 
that had forced Maxwell to concern himself with 
Ancoats's love-affairs at this particular moment. 

"Don't think of it," she said at last, urgently, as 
they walked along. " It is too bad ; as if there were 
not enough ! " 

Maxwell stood still, with a little smile, and put his 
arm round her shoulders. 

" Dear, I shall soon have time enough, probably, to 
think about Ancoats's affairs or anything else. Do 
you know that I was planning this morning what we 
would do when we go out ? Shall we slip over to the 
Australian colonies in the autumn ? I would give a 
good deal to see them for myself." 

She gave a low cry of pain. 

"Why are you so depressed to-night? Is there 
any fresh news?" 

"Yes. And, altogether, things look increasingly 
bad for us, and increasingly well for them. It will 
be extraordinarily close anyway — probably a matter 
of a vote or two." 

VOL. I — T 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


And he gave her a summary of his after-dinner con- 
versation with Lord Cathedine, a keen ally of Fonte- 
noy's in the Lords, and none the less a shrewd fellow 
because he happened to be also a detestable person. 

Marcella heard the news of one or two fresh defec- 
tions from the Government with amazement and indig- 
nation. She stood there in the darkness, leaning 
against the man she loved, her heart beating fast and 
stormily. How could the world thus misconceive and 
thwart him? And what could she do? Her mind 
ran passionately through a hundred schemes, refusing 
to submit — to see him baffled and defeated. 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


To Lord Ancoats himself tMs party of his mother's 
was an oppression and a nuisance. He had only been 
induced to preside over it with difficulty; and his 
mother had been both hurt and puzzled by his reluc- 
tance to play the host. 

If you had asked Maxwell's opinion on the point, 
he would have told you that Ancoats's bringing up 
had a good deal to do with the present anxieties 
of Ancoats's mother. He — Maxwell — had done his 
best, but he had been overmatched. 

First and foremost, Ancoats had been to no public 
school. It was not the custom of the family; and 
Mrs. Allison could not be induced to break the tra- 
dition. There was accordingly a succession of tutors, 
whose Church-principles at least were sound. And 
Ancoats showed himself for a time an impressionable, 
mystical boy, entirely in sympathy with his mother. 
His confirmation was a great family emotion, and 
when he was seventeen Mrs. Allison had difficulty 
in making him take food enough in Lent to keep him 
in health. Maxwell was beginning to wonder where 
it would end, when the lad was sent to Cambridge, 
and the transformation scene that might always per- 
haps have been expected, began. 

He had been two years at Trinity when he went to 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


pay the Maxwells a visit at the Court. Maxwell could 
hardly believe his eyes or ears. The boy who at nine- 
teen was an authority on church music and ancient 
"uses/' by twenty-one talked and thought of nothing 
in heaven or earth but the stage and French briodrbrcLc. 
His conversation swarmed with the names of actors, 
singers, and dancers ; but they were names that meant 
nothing except to the initiated. They were the small 
people of the small theatres ; and Ancoats was a Triton 
among them, not at all, so he carefully informed his 
kindred, because of his wealth and title, but because 
he too was an artist, and could sing, revel, write, and 
dance with the best of them. 

For some time Maxwell was able to console Mrs. 
Allison with the historical reflection that more than 
one son of the Oxford Movement had found in a pas- 
sion for the stage a ready means of annoying the Eng- 
lish Puritan. When it came, howeter, to the young 
man's producing risky plays of his own composing at 
extremely costly matinees, there was nothing for it 
but to interfere. Maxwell at last persuaded him to 
give up the farce of Cambridge and go abroad. But 
Ancoats would only go with a man of his own sort ; 
and their time was mostly spent in Paris, where 
Ancoats divided his hard-spent existence between the 
furious pursuit of Louis Quinze bibelots and the pat- 
ronage of two or three minor theatres. To be the king 
of a first night, raining applause and bouquets from 
his stage-box, seemed to give him infinite content ; but 
his vanity was hardly less flattered by the compli- 
ments say of M. Tournonville, the well-known dealer 
on the Quai Voltaire, who would bow himself before 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


the young Englislimaii with the admiring cry, " Mon 
Dieu ! milord, que- vous Stes fin connaisseur ! " while 
the dealer's assistant grinned among the shadows of 
the back-shop. 

At last, at twenty-four, he must needs return to Eng- 
land for his coming of age under his grandfather's will 
and the taking over of his estate. Under the sober- 
ing influence of these events, his class and his mother 
seemed for a time to recover him. He refurnished a 
certain number of rooms at Castle Luton, and made a 
special marvel of his own room, which was hung thick 
with Boucher, Greuze, and Watteau engravings, lit- 
tered with miniatures and trinkets, and encumbered 
here and there with portfolios of drawings which he 
was not anxious to unlock in his mother's presence. 

Moreover, he was again affectionate to his mother, 
and occasionally even went to church with her. The 
instincts of the English aristocrat reappeared amid 
the accomplishments of the petit-mattre, and poor Mrs. 
Allison's spirits revived. Then the golden-haired 
Lady Madeleine was asked to stay at Castle Luton. 
When she came Ancoats devoted himself with extraor- 
dinary docility. He drew her, made songs for her, 
and devised French charades to act with her ; he even 
went so far as to compare her with enthusiasm to the 
Mttest and most wonderful " Salome " just exhibited in 
the Salon by the latest and most wonderful of the im- 
pressionists. But Lady Madeleine fortunately had not 
seen the picture. 

Then suddenly, one morning, Ancoats went up to 
town without notice and remained there. After a 
while his mother pursued him thither; but Ancoats 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


was restless at sight of her, and she was not long in 
London, though long enough to show the Maxwells 
and others that her heart was anxiously set upon 
Lady Madeleine as a daughter-in-law. 

This then — taken together with the stories now 
besprinkling the newspapers — was the situation. 
Naturally, Ancoats's affairs, as he himself was irri- 
tably &ware, were now, in one way or another, occu- 
pying the secret thoughts or the private conversations 
of most of his mother's guests. 

For instance — 

" Are you nice ? " said Betty Leven, suddenly, to 
young Lord Naseby, in the middle of Sunday morn- 
ing. " Are you in a charitable, charming, humble, and 
trusting frame of mind ? Because, if not, I shall go 
away — I have had too much of Lady Kent ! " 

Charlie Naseby laughed. He was sitting reading 
in the shade at the edge of one of the Castle Luton 
lawns. For some time past he had been watching 
Betty Leven and Lady Kent, as they talked under a 
cedar-tree some little distance from him. Lady Kent 
conversed with her whole bellicose person — her cap, 
her chin, her nose, her spreading and impressive 
shoulders. And from her gestures young Naseby 
guessed that she had been talking to Betty Leven 
rather more in character than usual. 

He felt a certain curiosity about the t^te-drt^te. So 
that when Betty left her companion and came tripping 
over the lawn to the house, the young man lifted his 
face and gave her a smiling nod, as though to invite 
her to come and visit him on the way. Betty came^ 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


and then as she stood in front of him delivered the 
home question already reported. 

" Am I nice ? " repeated young Naseby. " Far from 
it. I have not been to church, and I have been read- 
ing a French novel of which I do not even propose to 
tell you the name." 

And he promptly slipped his volume into his 

"Which is worst?" said Betty, pensively: "to 
break the fourth Commandment or the ninth ? Lady 
Kent, of course, has been trampling on them both. 
But the ninth is her particular victim. She calls it 
* getting to the roots of things.' " 

"Whose roots has she been delving at this morn- 
ing?" said Naseby. 

Betty looked behind her, saw that Lady Kent had 
gone into the house, and let herself drop into the cor- 
ner of Naseby's bench with a sigh of fatigue. 

" One feels as though one were a sort of house-dog 
tussling with a burglar. I have been keeping her off 
all my friends' secrets by main force ; so she had to 
fall back on George Tressady, and tell me ugly tales 
of his mamma." 

" George Tressady ! Why on earth should she do 
him an ill turn ? I don't believe she ever saw him 

Betty pressed her lips. She and Charlie Naseby 
had been friends since they wore round pinafores and 
sat on high nursery chairs side by side. 

" One needn't go to the roots of things," she said, 
severely, "but one should have eyes in one's head. 
Has it ever occurred to you that Ancoats has taken a 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


special fancy to Sir George — that he sat talking to 
him last night till all hours, and that he has been 
walking about with him the whole of this morning, 
instead of walking about — well ! with somebody else 
— as he was meant to do ? Why do men behave in 
this ridiculous manner? Women, of course. But 
men I It's like a trout that won't let itself be landed. 
And what's the good? It's only prolonging the 

"Not at all," said Naseby, laughing. "There's 
always the chance of slipping the hook." Then his 
lively face became suddenly serious. " But it's time, 
I think," he added, almost with vehemence, "that 
Lady Kent stopped trying to land Ancoats. In the 
first place, it's no good. He won't be landed against 
his will. In the next — well, I only know," he broke 
off, "that if I had a sister in love with Ancoats at the 
present moment, I'd carry her off to the North Pole 
rather than let her be talked about with him ! " 

Betty opened her eyes. 

" Then there is something in the stories ! " she cried. 
" Of course, Frank told me there was nothing. And 
the Maxwells have not said a word. And now 1 
understand why Lady Kent has been dinning it into 
my ears — I could only be thankful Mrs. Allison was 
safe at church — that Ancoats should marry early. 
*0h! my dear, it's always been the only hope for 
them!'" Betty mimicked Lady Kent's deep voice 
and important manner : " * Why, there was the grand- 
father — his wife had a time ! — I could tell you things 
about him I — oh ! and her too. — And even Henry Alli- 
son I — ' There, of course, I stopped her." 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


"Old ghoul!'' said Naseby, in disgust. "So she 
knows. And yet — good Heavens! where does that 
charming girl come from?'' 

He knocked the end off his cigarette, and returned 
it to his mouth with a rather unsteady hand. 

" Knows ? — knows what ? " said Betty. There was 
a pink flush, perhaps of alarm, on her pretty cheek, 
but her eyes said plainly that if there were risks she 
must run them. 

Naseby hesitated. The natural reticence of one 
young man about another held him back — and he was 
Ancoats's friend. But he liked Lady Madeleine, and 
her mother's ugly manoeuvres in the sight of gods and 
men filled him with a restless ill-temper. 

" You say the Maxwells have told you nothing ? " 
he said at last. " But all the same I am pretty certain 
that Maxwell is here for nothing else. What on earth 
should he be doing in this galore just now ! Look at 
him and Fontenoy ! They've been pacing that lime- 
walk for a good hour. No one ever saw such a spec- 
tacle before. Of course something's up ! " 

Betty followed his eyes, and caught the figures of 
the two men between the trunks as they moved through 
the light and shadow of the lime-walk — Fontenoy's 
massive head sunk in his shoulders, his hands clasped 
behind his back ; Maxwell's taller and alerter form be- 
side him. Fontenoy had, in fact, arrived that morn- 
ing from town, just too late to accompany Mrs. 
Allison and her flock to church; and Maxwell and 
he had been together since the moment when Ancoats, 
having brought his guest into the garden, had gone off 
himself on arwalk with Tressady 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


"Ancoats and Tressady came back past here," 
Naseby went on. " Ancoats stood still, with his hands 
on his sides, and looked at those two. His expression 
was not amiable. * Something hatching,' he said to 
Tressady. I suppose Ancoats got his sneer from his 
actor-friends — none of us could do it without prac- 
tice. * Shall we go and pull the chief out of that ? ' 
But they didn't go. Ancoats turned sulky, and went 
into the house by himself." 

" I'm glad I don't have to keep that youth straight," 
said Betty, devoutly. " Perhaps I don't care enough 
about him to try. But his mother's a darling saint ! 
— and if he breaks her heart he ought to be hung." 

"She knows nothing — I believe — " said Naseby, 

" Strange ! " cried Betty. " I wonder if it pays to 
be a saint. I shall know everything about my boy 
when he's that age." 

" Oh ! will you ? " said Naseby, looking at her with 
a mocking eye. 

"Yes, sir, I shall. Your secrets are not so difficult 
to know, if one wants to know them. Heaven forbid, 
however, that I should want to know anything about 
any of you till Bertie is grown up ! Now, please tell 
me everything. Who is the lady ? " 

" Heaven forbid I should tell you ! " said Naseby, 

" Don't trifle any more," said Betty, laying a remon- 
strating hand on his arm ; " they will be home from 
church directly." 

"Well, I won't tell you any names," said Naseby, 
reluctantly. "Of course, it's an actress — a very 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


small one. And, of course, she's a bad lot — and 

" Why, there's no of course about it — about either 
of them!" said Betty, with more indignation than 
grammar. She also had dramatic friends, and was 
sensitive on the point. 

Naseby protested that if he must argue the ethics 
of the stage before he told his tale, the tale would 
remain untold. Then Betty, subdued, fell into an 
attitude of meek listening, hands on lap. The tale 
when told indeed proved to be a very ordinary affair, 
marked out perhaps a trifle from the ruck by the facts 
that there was another pretender in the field with 
whom Ancoats had already had one scene in public, 
and would probably have more; that Ancoats being 
Ancoats, something mad and conspicuous was to be ex- 
pected, which would bring the matter inevitably to his 
mother's ears ; and that Mrs. Allison was Mrs. Allison. 

" Can he marry her ? " said Betty, quickly. 

"Thank Heaven! no. There is a husband some- 
where in Chili. So that it doesn't seem to be a ques- 
tion of driving Mrs. Allison out of Castle Luton. But 
— well, between ourselves, it would be a pity to give 
Ancoats so fine a chance of going to the bad, as he'll 
get, if this young woman lays hold of him. He 
mightn't recover it." 

Betty sat silent a moment. All her gaiety had 
passed away. There was a fierceness in her blue 

" And that's what we bring them up for ! " she ex- 
claimed at last — "that they may do all these ugly, 
stale, stupid things over again. Oh ! I'm not think- 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


ing so inucli of the morals ! " — she turned to Naseby 
with a defiant look. " I am thinking of the hateful 
cruelty and unkindness ! '^ 

" To his mother ? " said Naseby. He shrugged his 

Betty allowed herself an outburst. Her little hand 
trembled on her knee. Naseby did not reply. Not 
that he disagreed ; far from it. Under his young and 
careless manner he was already a person of settled 
character, cherishing a number of strong convictions. 
But since it had become the fashion to talk as frankly 
of a matter of this kind to your married-women friends 
as to anybody else, he thought that the women should 
take it with more equanimity. 

Betty, indeed, regained her composure very quickly, 
like a stream when the gust has passed. They fell 
into a keen, practical discussion of the affair. Who 
had influence with Ancoats ? What man ? Naseby 
shook his head. The difference in age between An- 
coats and Maxwell was too great, and the men too 
unlike in temperament. He himself had done what 
he could, in vain, and Ancoats now told him nothing ; 
for the rest, he thought Ancoats had very few friends 
amid his innumerable acquaintance, and such as he 
had, of a third-rate dramatic sort, not likely to be 
of much use at this moment. 

" I haven't seen him take to any fellow of his own 
kind as much as he has taken to George Tressady 
these two days, since he left Cambridge. But that's 
no good, of course — it's too new." 

The two sat side by side, pondering. Suddenly 
Naseby said, smiling, with a change of expression : 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


"Tins party is really quite interesting. Look 
there ! " 

Betty looked, and saw George Tressady, with his 
hands in his pockets, lounging along a distant path 
beside Marcella Maxwell. 

« Well ! '' said Betty, " what then ? " 

Naseby gave his mouth a twist. 

"Nothing; only it's odd. I ran across them just 
now — I was playing ball with that jolly little imp, 
Hallin. You never saw two people more absorbed. 
Of course he's «ow« le charme — we all are. Our Eng- 
lish politics are rather rum, aren't they ? They don't 
indulge in this amiable country-house business in a 
South American republic, you know. They prefer 

"And you evidently think it a he9,lthier state of 
things. Wait till we come to something nearer to our 
hearths and bosoms than Factory Acts," said Betty, 
with the wisdom of her kind. " All the same. Lord 
Fontenoy is in earnest." 

" Oh yes, Fontenoy is in earnest. So, I suppose, is 
Tressady. So — good Heavens ! — is Maxwell. I say, 
here comes the church party." 

And from a side-door in a venerable wall, beyond 
which could be seen the tower of a little church, there 
emerged a small group of people — Mrs. Allison, Lady 
Cathedine, and Madeleine Penley in front, escorted by 
the white-haired Sir Philip ; and behind. Lady Tres- 
sady, between Harding Watton and Lord Cathedine. 

"Cathedine!" cried Naseby, staring at the group. 
" Cathedine been to church ? " 

"For the purpose, I suppose, of disappointing poor 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


Laura, who might have hoped to get rid of him," said 
Betty, sharply. "No! — if I were Mrs. Allison I 
should draw the line at Lord Cathedine." 

" Nobody need see any more of Cathedine than they 
want," said Naseby, calmly ; " and, of course, he be- 
haves himself here. Moreover, there is no doubt at 
all about his brains. They say Fontenoy expects to 
make great use of him in the Lords," 

" By the way," said Betty, turning round upon him, 
" where are you ? " 

" Well, thank God ! I'm not in Parliament," was 
Naseby's smiling reply. "So don't trouble me for 
opinions. I have none. Except that, speaking gen- 
erally, I should like Lady Maxwell to get what she 

Betty threw him a sly glance, wondering if she 
might tease him about the news she heard of him 
from Marcella. 

She had no time, however, to attack him, for Mrs. 
Allison approached. 

"What is the matter with her ? — with Madeleine? 
— with all of them ? " thought Betty, suddenly. 

For Mrs. Allison, pale and discomposed, did not 
return, did not apparently notice Lady Leven's greet- 
ing. She walked hastily past them, and would have 
gone at once into the house but that, turning her 
head, she perceived Lord Fontenoy hurrying towards 
her from the lime-walk. With an obvious effort she 
controlled herself, and went to meet him, leaning 
heavily on her silver-topped stick. 

The others paused, no one having, as it seemed^ 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


anything to say. Letty poked the gravel with her 
parasol; Sir Philip made a telescope of his hands, 
and fixed it upon Maxwell, who was coming slowly 
across the lawn; while Lady Madeleine turned a 
handsome, bewildered face on Betty. 

Betty took her aside to look at a flower on the 

"What's the matter?'' said Lady Leven, under 
her breath. 

"I don't know," said the other. "Something 
dreadful happened on the way home. There was a 

But she broke off suddenly. Ancoats had just 
opened and shut the garden-door, and was coming to 
join his guests. 

"Poor dear ! " thought Betty to herself, with a leap 
of pity. It was so evident the girl's whole nature 
thrilled to the approaching step. She turned her 
head towards Ancoats, as though against her will, 
her tall form drawn erect, in unconscious tension. 

Ancoats's quick eyes ran over the group. 

"He thinks we have been talking about him," was 
Betty's quick reflection, which was probably not far 
from the truth. For the young man's face at once 
assumed a lowering expression, and, walking up to 
Lady Tressady, whom as yet he had noticed no more 
than civility required, he asked whether she would 
like to see the " houses " and the rose-garden. 

Letty, delighted by the attention, said Yes in her 
gayest way, and Ancoats at once led her off. He 
walked quickly, and their figures soon disappeared 
ainong the trees. 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


Madeleine Penley gazed after them. Betty, who 
had a miserable feeling that the girl was betraying 
herself to men like Harding Watton or Lord Cathe- 
dine, — a feeling which was, however, the creation of 
her own nervous excitement, — tried to draw her 
away. But Lady Madeleine did not seem to under- 
stand. She stood mechanically buttoning and un- 
buttoning her long gloves. "Yes, I'm coming," she 
said, but she did not move. 

Then Betty saw that Lord Naseby had approached 
her ; and it seemed to the observer that all the young 
man's vivid face was suffused with something at once 
soft and fierce. 

"The thorn-blossom on the hill is a perfect show 
just now. Lady Madeleine," he said. " Come and look 
at it. There will be just time before lunch." 

The girl looked at him. The colour rushed to 
her cheeks, and she walked submissively away beside 

Meanwhile Letty and Ancoats pursued their way 
towards the greenhouses and walled gardens. Letty 
tripped along, hardly able to keep up with her 
companion's stride, but chattering fast all the time. 
At every turn of the view she overflowed with praise 
and wonder; nor could anything have been at once 
more enthusiastic or more impertinent than the ques- 
tions with which she plied him as to his gardeners, 
his estate, and his affairs, in the intervals of pane- 

Ancoats at first hardly listened to her. A perfunc- 
tory " Yes " or " No " seemed to be all that the situar 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


tion demanded. Then, when he did sufficiently emerge 
from the tempest of his own thoughts to catch some of 
the things she was saying, his irritable temper rebelled 
at once. What had Tressady been about ? — ill-bred, 
tiresome woman ! 

His manner stiffened ; he stalked along in front of 
her, doing his bare host's duty, and warding off her 
conversation as much as possible; while Letty, on 
her side, soon felt the familiar chill and mortification 
creeping over her. Why, she wondered angrily, should 
he have asked her to walk with him if he could not 
be a more agreeable companion ? 

Towards the end of the lime-walk they came across 
Mrs. Allison and Lord Fontenoy. As they passed the 
older pair the pale mother lifted her eyes to her son 
with a tremulous smile. 

But Ancoats made no response, nor had he any 
greeting for Fontenoy. He carried his companion 
quickly on, till they found themselves in a wilderness 
of walled gardens opening one into another, each, as 
it seemed, more miraculously ordered and more abun- 
dantly stocked than its neighbour. 

"I wonder you know your way," laughed Letty. 
^^ And who can possibly consume all this ? " 

" I haven't an idea," said Ancoats, abruptly, as he 
opened the door of the tenth vinery. " I wish you'd 
tell me." 

Letty raised her eyebrows with a little cry of 

" Oh ! but it makes the whole place so magnificent, 
so complete." 

^^ What is there magnificent in having too much ? " 

VOL. I — u 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


said Ancoats, shortly. "I believe the day of tiiese 
huge country places, with all their dxdl greenhouses 
and things, is done." 

Much he cared, indeed, about his gardeners and his 
grapes ! He was in the mood to feel his whole inher- 
itance a burden round his neck. But at the same 
time to revile his own wealth gave him a pungent 
sense of playing the artist. 

" Have you argued that with Lord Fontenoy ? " she 
inquired archly. 

" I should not take the trouble," he said, with care- 
less hauteur. " Ah ! " — Letty's vanity winced under 
his involuntary accent of relief — "I see your husband 
and Lady Maxwell." 

Marcella and George came towards them. They 
were strolling along a broad flowery border, which 
was at the moment a blaze of paeonies of all shades, 
interspersed with tall pyramidal growths of honey- 
suckle. Marcella was loitering here and there, bury- 
ing her face in the fragrance of the honeysuckle, or 
drawing her companion's attention in delight to the 
glowing clumps of pseonies. Hallin hovered round 
them, now putting his hand confidingly into Tressady's, 
now tugging at his mother's dress, and now gravely 
wooing the friendship of a fine St. Bernard that made 
one of the party. George, with his hands in his 
pockets, walked or paused as the others chose; and 
it struck Letty at once that he was talking with un- 
usual freedom and zest. 

Yes, it was true, indeed, as Harding said — they 
had made friends. As she looked at them the first 
movement of a jealous temper stirred in Letty. She 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


was angry with Lady Maxwell's beauty, and angry 
with George's enjoyment. It was like the great lady 
all over to slight the wife and annex the husband. 
George certainly might have taken the trouble to 
come and look for her on their return from church ! 

So, while Ancoats talked stiffly with Marcella, the 
bride, a few paces off, let George understand through 
her bantering manner that she was out of humour. 

" But, dear, I had no notion you would be let out so 
soon," pleaded George. " That good man really can't 
earn his pay." 

" Oh ! but of course you knew it was High Church 
— all split up into little bits," said Letty, unappeased. 
"But naturally — " 

She was about to add some jealous sarcasm when it 
was arrested by the arrival of Sir Philip Wentworth 
and Watton, whose figures appeared in a side-arch- 
way close to her. 

" Ah ! well guessed," said Sir Philip. " I thought 
we should find you among the paeonies. Lady Tres- 
sady, did you ever see such a show? Ancoats, is 
your head gardener visible on a Sunday ? I ask with 
trembling, for there is no more magnificent member 
of creation. But if I could get at him, to ask him 
about an orchid I saw in one of your houses yester- 
day, I should be grateful." 

"Come into the next garden, then," said Ancoats, 
" where the orchid-houses are. If he isn't there, we'll 
send for him." 

" Then, Lady Tressady, you must come and see me 
through," said Sir Philip, gallantly. "I want to quar- 
rel with him about a label — and you remember Dizzy's 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


saying — 'a head gardener is always opinionated*? 
Are you coming, Lady Maxwell ? " 

Marcella shook her head, smiling. 

" I am afraid I hate hothouses," she said. 

" My dear lady, don't pine for the life according to 
nature at Castle Luton ! " said Sir Philip, raising a 
finger. " The best of hothouses, like the best of any- 
thing, demands a thrill.'* 

Marcella shrugged her shoulders. 

" I get more thrill out of the paeonies." 

Sir Philip laughed, and he and Watton carried off 
Letty, whose vanity was once more happy in their 
society ; while Ancoats, glad of the pretext, hurried 
along in front to find the great Mr. Newmarch. 

" I believe there are some wonderful irises out in the 
Friar's Garden," said Marcella. "Mrs. Allison told 
me there was a show of them somewhere. Let me see 
if I can find the way. And Hallin would like the 
goldfish in the fountain." 

Her two companions followed her gladly, and she 
led them through devious paths till there was a shout 
from Hallin, and the most poetic corner of a famous 
garden revealed itself. Amid the ruins of a cloister 
that had once formed part of the dissolved Cistercian* 
priory on whose confiscated lands Castle Luton ha.d 
arisen, a rich medley of flowers was in full and per- 
fect bloom. Irises in every ravishing shade of purple, 
lilac, and gold, carpets of daffodils and narcissus, cov- 
ered the ground, and ran into each corner and cranny 
of the old wall. Yellow banksia and white clematis 
climbed the crumbling shafts, or made n^w tracery for 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


the empty windows, and where the ruin ended, yew 
hedges, adorned at top with a whole procession of 
birds and beasts, began. The flowery space thus en- 
closed was broken in the centre by an old fountain ; 
and as one sat on a stone seat beside it, one looked 
through an archway, cut through the darkness of the 
yews, to the blue river and the hills. 

The little place breathed perfume and delight. But 
Marcella did not, somehow, give it the attention it 
deserved. She sat down absently on the bench by the 
fountain, and presently, as George and Hallin were 
poking among the goldfish, she turned to her com- 
panion with the abrupt question: 

"You didn't know Ancoats, I think, before this 
visit, did you ? '' 

" Only as one knows the merest acquaintance. Fon- 
tenoy introduced me to him at the club." 

Marcella sighed. She seemed to be arguing some- 
thing with herseK. At last, with a quick look towards 
the approaches of the garden, she said in a low voice : 

"I think you must know that his friends are not 
happy about him ? " 

It so happened that Watton had found opportimity 
to show Tressady that morning a paragraph from one 
of the numerous papers that batten on the British 
peer, his dress, his morals, and his sport. The para- 
graph, without names, without even initials, contained 
an outline of Lord Ancoats's affairs which Harding, 
who knew everything of a scandalous nature, declared 
to be well informed. It had made George whistle; 
and afterwards he had watched Mrs. Allison go to 
church with a new interest in her proceedings. 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


So that when Marcella threw out her hesitating 
question, he said at once : 

" I know what the papers are beginning to say — 
that is, I have seen a paragraph — ^' 

"Oh! those newspapers!" she said in distress. 
" We are all afraid of some madness, and any increase 
of talk may hasten it. There is no one who can con- 
trol him, and of late he has not even tried to conceal 

"It is a determined face," said George. "I am 
afraid he will take his way. How is it that he 
comes to be so imlike his mother?" 

" How is it that adoration and sacrifice count for so 
little?" said Marcella, sadly. "She has given him 
all the best of her life." 

And she drew a rapid sketch of the youth's career 
and the mother's devotion. 

George listened in silence. What she said showed 
him that in his conversations with Ancoats that young 
man had been talking round and about his own case a 
good deal I and when she paused he said drily : 

" Poor Mrs. Allison ! But, you know, there must be 
some crumples in the rose-leaves of the great." 

She looked at him with a momentary astonishment. 

" Why should one think of her as ' great ' ? Would 
not any mother suffer ? First of all he is so changed ; 
it is so difficult to get at him — his friends are so 
unlike hers — he is so wrapped up in London, so apa- 
thetic about his estate. All the religious sympathy 
that meant so much to her is gone. And now he 
threatens her with this — what shall I call it ? " — her 
lip curled — "this entanglement. If it goes on, how 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


shall we keep her from breaking her heart over it ? 
Poor thing! poor mothers!" 

She raised her white hand, and let it fall upon her 
knee with one of the free, instinctive gestures that 
made her beauty so expressive. 

But George would not yield himseK to her feeling. 

" Ancoats will get through it — somehow — as other 
men do," he said stubbornly, "and she must get through 
it too — and not break her heart." 

Marcella was silent. He turned towards her after 
a moment. 

" You think that a brutal doctrine ? But if you'll 
let me say it, life and ease and good temper are really 
not the brittle things women make them ! Why do 
they put all their treasure into that one bag they call 
their affections ? There is plenty else in life — there 
is indeed ! It shows poverty of mind ! " 

He laughed, and taking up a pebble dropped it 
sharply among the goldfish. 

" Alack ! " said Marcella, caressing her child's head 
as he stood playing beside her. " Hallin, I can't have 
you kiss my hand like that. Sir George says it's 
poverty of mind." 

" It ain't," said Hallin, promptly. But his remark 
had a deplorable lack of unction, for the goldfish, 
startled by George's pebble, were at that moment per- 
forming evolutions of the greatest interest, and his 
black eyes were greedily bent upon them. 

Both . laughed, and George let her remark alone. 
But his few words left on Marcella a painful impres- 
sion, which renewed her compassion of the night be- 
fore. This young fellow, just married, protesting 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


against an over-exaltation of the affections! — it 
struck her as half tragic, half grotesque. And, of 
course, it was explained by the idiosyncrasies of that 
little person in a Paris gown now walking about 
somewhere with Sir Philip! 

Yet, just as she had again allowed herseK to think 
of him as someone far younger and less mature than 
herself, he quietly renewed the conversation, so far as 
it concerned Ancoats, talking with a caustic good sense, 
a shrewd perception, and at bottom with a good feel- 
ing, that first astonished her, and then mastered her 
friendship more and more. She found herself yield- 
ing him a fuller and fuller confidence, appealing to 
him, taking pleasure in anything that woke the humour 
of the sharp, long face, or that rare blink of the blue 
eyes that meant a leap of some responsive sympathy 
he could not quite conceal. 

And for him it was all pleasure, though he never 
stopped to think of it. The lines of her slender form, 
as she sat with such careless dignity beside him, her 
lovely eyes, the turns of her head, the softening tones 
of her voice, the sense of an emerging bond that had 
in it nothing ignoble, nothing to be ashamed of, to- 
gether with the child's simple liking for him, and the 
mere physical delight of this morning of late May — 
the rush and splendour of its white, thunderous 
clouds, its penetrating, scented air: each and all 
played their part in the rise of a new emotion he 
would not have analysed if he could. 

He was particularly glad that in this fresh day of 
growing intimacy she had as yet talked politics or 
" questions '' of any sort so little ! It made it all the 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


more possible to escape from, to wholly overthrow in 
his mind, that first hostile image of her, impressed — 
strange unreason on his part ! — by that first meeting 
with her in the crowd round the injured child, and in 
the hospital ward. Had she started any subject of 
mere controversy he would have held his own as 
stoutly as ever. But so long as she let them lie, her- 
self, the woman, insensibly argued for her, and wore 
down his earlier mood. 

So long, indeed, as he forgot Maxwell's part in it 
all ! But it was not possible to forget it long. For 
the wife's passion, in spite of a noble reticence, shone 
through her whole personality in a way that alter- 
nately touched and challenged her new friend. No ; 
let him remember that Maxwell's ways of looking at 
things were none the less pestilent because she put 
them into words. 

After luncheon Betty Leven found herself in a 
corner of the Green Drawing-room. On the other 
side of it Mrs. Allison and Lord Fontenoy were 
seated together, with Sir Philip Wentworth not far 
off. Lord Fontenoy was describing his week in Par- 
liament. Betty, who knew and generally shunned 
him, raised her eyebrows occasionally, as she caught 
the animated voice, the queer laughs, and fluent 
expositions, which the presence of his muse was 
drawing from this most ungainly of worshippers. 
His talk, indeed, was one long invocation; and the 
little white-haired lady in the armchair was doing 
her best to play Melpomene. Her speech was very 
soft. But it made for battle; and Fontenoy was 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


never so formidable as when he was fresh from Castle 

Betty's thoughts, however, had once more slipped 
away from her immediate neighbours, and were pur- 
suing more exciting matters, — the state of Madeleine 
Penley's heart and the wiles of that witch-woman in 
London, who must be somehow plucked like a burr 
from Ancoats's skirts, — when Marcella entered the 
room, hat in hand. 

"Whither away, fair lady?" cried Betty; "come 
and talk to me." 

" Hallin will be in the river," said Marcella, irreso- 

" If he is. Sir George will fish him out. Besides, 
I believe Sir George and Ancoats have gone for a 
walk, and Hallin with them. I heard Maxwell tell 
Hallin he might go." 

Marcella turned an uncertain look upon Lord Eon- 
tenoy and Mrs. Allison. But directly Maxwell's wife 
entered the room. Maxwell's enemy had dropped his 
talk of political affairs, and he was now showing Sir 
Philip a portfolio of Mrs. Allison's sketches, with a 
subdued ardour that brought a kindly smile to Mar- 
cella's lip. In general, Pontenoy had neither eye 
nor ear for anything artistic; moreover, he spoke 
barbarous French, and no other European tongue; 
while of letters he had scarcely a tincture. But 
when it became a question of Mrs. Allison's accom- 
plishments, her drawing, her embroidery, still more 
her admirable French and excellent Italian, the books 
she had read, and the poetry she knew by heart, he 
was all appreciation — one might almost say, all 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


feeling. It was Cymon and Iphigenia in a modern 
and middle-aged key. 

His mien he fashioned and his tongue he filed. 

And did a blunder come, Iphigenia gently and deftly 
put it to rights. 

" Where is Madeleine ? " asked Betty, as Marcella 
approached her sofa. 

" Walking with Lord Naseby, I think." 

" What was the matter on the way from church ? " 
asked Betty, in a low voice, raising her face to her 

Marcella looked gravely down upon her. 

"If you come into the garden I will tell you. 
Madeleine told me.'' 

Betty, all curiosity, followed her friend through 
the open window to a seat in the Dutch garden 

" It wa^ a terrible thing that happened,'' said Mar- 
cella, sitting erect, and speaking with a manner of 
suppressed energy that Betty knew well ; " one of the 
things that make my blood boil when I come here. 
You know how she rules the village ? " — She turned 
imperceptibly towards the distant drawing-room, 
where Mrs. Allison's white head was still visible. 
"Not only must all the cottages be beautiful, but all 
the people must reach a certain standard of virtue. 
If a man drinks, he must go ; if a girl loses her char- 
acter, she and her child must go. It was such a girl 
that threw herself in the way of the party this morn- 
ing. Her mother would not part with her ; so the de- 
cree went forth — the whole family must go. They 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


say the girl has never been right in her head since the 
baby's birth; she raved and wept this morning, said 
her parents conld find no work elsewhere — they must 
die, she and her child must die. Mrs. Allison tried to 
stop her, but couldn't; then she hurriedly sent the 
others on, and stayed behind herself — only for a 
minute or two; she overtook Madeleine almost im- 
mediately. Madeleine is sure she was inexorable; 
so am I; she always is. I once argued with her 
about a case of the kind — a crud case ! ^ Those 
are the sins * that make me shudder 1 ' she said, and 
one could make no impression on her whatever. 
You see how exhausted she looks this afternoon. 
She will wear herself out, probably, praying and 
weeping over the girl." 

Betty threw up her hands. 

" My dear ! — when she knows — " 

"It may perfectly well kill her,'' said Marcella, 
steadily. Then, after a pause, Betty saw her face 
flush from brow to chin, and she added, in a low and 
passionate voice : " Nevertheless, from all tyrannies 
and cruelties in the name of Christ, good Lord, de- 
liver us ! " 

The two lingered together for some time without 
speaking. Both were thinking of much the same 
things, but both were tired with the endless talk- 
ing of a country-house Sunday, and the rest was 

And presently Marcella rambled away from her 
friend, and spent an hour pacing by herself in a glade 
beside the river. 

And there her mind instantly shook itself from 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


every care but one — the yearning over her husband 
and his work. 

Two years of labour — she caught her breath with 
a little sob — labour which had aged and marked 
the labourer ; and now, was it really to be believed, 
that after all the toil, after so much hope and promise 
of success, everything was to be wrecked at last ? 

She gave herself once more to eager forecasts and 
combinations. As to individuals — she recalled Tres- 
sady's blunt warning with a smile and a wince. But 
it did not prevent her from falling into a reverie of 
which he, or someone like him, was the centre. 
Types, incidents, scenes, rose before her — if they 
could only be pressed upon, burnt into such a mind, 
as they had been burnt into her mind and Maxwell's ! 
That was the whole difficulty — lack of vision, lack of 
realisation. Men were to have the deciding voice in 
this thing, who had no clear conception of how pov- 
erty and misery live, no true knowledge of this vast 
tragedy of labour perpetually acted in our midst, no 
rebellion of heart against conditions of life for other 
men they themselves would die a thousand times 
rather than accept. She saw herself, in a kind of 
despair, driving such persons through streets, and 
into houses she knew, forcing them to look, and feel. 
Even now, at the last moment — 

How much better she had come to know this 
interesting, limited being, George Tressady, during 
these twenty-four hours! She liked his youth, 
his sincerity — even the stubbornness with which 
he disclaimed inconvenient enthusiasms; and she 
was inevitably flattered by the way in which 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


his evident prejudice against herself had broken 

His marriage was a misfortune, a calamity! She 
thought of it with the instinctive repulsion of one who 
has never known any temptation to the small vulgar- 
ities of life. One could have nothing to say to a 
little being like that. But all the more reason for 
befriending the man ! 

An hour or two later Tressady found himself stroll- 
ing home along the flowery bank of the river. It 
was not long since he had parted from Lady Maxwell 
and Hallin, and on leaving them he had turned back 
for a while towards the woods on the hill, on the 
pretext that he wanted more of a walk. Now, how- 
ever, he was hurrying towards the house, that there 
might be time for a chat with Letty before dressing. 
She would think he had been away too long. But he 
had proposed to take her on the river after tea, and 
she had preferred a walk with Lord Cathedine. 

Since then — He looked round him at the river 
and the hills. There was a flush of sunset through 
the air, and the blue of the river was interlaced with 
rosy or golden reflections from a sky piled with stormy 
cloud and aglow with every "visionary majesty" of 
light and colour. The great cloud-masses were driv- 
ing in a tragic splendour through the west ; and hue 
and form alike, throughout the wide heaven, seemed 
to him to breathe a marvellous harmony and poetry, to 
make one vibrating "word " of beauty. Had some god 
suddenly gifted him with new senses and new eyes ? 
Never had he felt so much joy in Nature, such a lift- 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


ing up to things awful and divine. Why ? Because 
a beautiful woman had been walking beside him? — 
because he had been talking with her of things that 
he, at least, rarely talked of — realities of feeling, or 
thought, or memory, that no woman had ever shared 
with him before? 

How had she drawn him to such openness, such 
indiscretions? He was half ashamed, and then forgot 
his discomfort in the sudden, eager glancing of the 
mind to the future, to the opportunities of the day 
just coming — for Mrs. Allison's party was to last till 
Whit Tuesday — to the hours and places in London 
where he was to meet her on those social errands of 
hers. What a warm, true heart! What a woman, 
through all her dreams and mistakes, and therefore 
how adorable ! 

He quickened his pace as the light failed. Pres- 
ently he saw a figure coming towards him, emerging 
from the trees that skirted the main lawn. It was 
Fontenoy, and Fontenoy's supporter must needs rec- 
ollect himself as quickly as possible. He had not 
seen much of his leader during the day. But he 
knew well that Fontenoy never forgot his rdle, and 
there were several points, newly arisen within the 
last forty-eight hours, on which he might have ex- 
pected before this to be called to counsel. 

But Fontenoy, when he came up with the wanderer, 
seemed to have no great mind for talk. He had evi- 
dently been pacing and thinking by himself, and when 
he was fullest of thought he was as a rule most silent 
and inarticulate. 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


"You are late ; so am I," he said, as he turned back 
with Tressady. 

Greorge assented. 

"I have been thinking out one or two points of 

But instead of discussing them he sank into silence 
again. George let him alone, knowing his ways. 

Presently he said, raising his powerful head with 
a jerk, "But tactics are not of such importance as 
they were. I think the thing is done — done ! " he 
repeated with emphasis. 

George shrugged his shoulders. 

" I don't know. We may be too sanguine. It is 
not possible that Maxwell should be easily beaten." 

Fontenoy laughed — a strange, high laugh, like a 
jay's, that seemed to have no relation to his massive 
frame, and died suddenly away. 

"But we shall beat him," he said quietly; "and her, 
too. A well-meaning woman — but what a foolish one ! " 

George made no reply. 

"Though I am bound to say," Fontenoy went on 
quickly, "that in private matters no man could be 
kinder and show a sounder judgment than Maxwell. 
And I believe Mrs. Allison feels the same with regard 
to her." 

His look first softened, then frowned; and as he 
turned his eyes towards the house, George guessed 
what subject it was that he and Maxwell had dis- 
cussed under the limes in the morning. 

He found Letty in very good spirits, owing, as far 
as he could judge, to the civilities and attentions of 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


Lord Cathedine. Moreover, she was more at ease in 
her surroundings, and less daunted by Mrs. Allison. 

"And of course, to-morrow," she said, as she put 
on her diamonds, "it will be nicer still. We shall 
all know each other so much better." 

In her good-humour she had forgotten her twinge 
of jealousy, and did not even inquire with whom he 
had been wandering so long. 

But Letty was disappointed of her last day at 
Castle Luton. For the party broke up suddenly, 
and by ten o'clock on Monday morning all Mrs. 
Allison's guests but Lord Eontenoy and the Max- 
wells had left Castle Luton. 

It was on this wise. 

After dinner on Sunday night Ancoats, who had 
been particularly silent and irritable at table, sud- 
denly proposed to show his guests the house. Accord- 
ingly, he led them through its famous rooms and 
corridors, turned on the electric light to show the 
pictures, and acted cicerone to the china and the 

Then, suddenly it was noticed that he had somehow 
slipped away, and that Madeleine Penley, too, was 
missing. The party straggled back to the drawing- 
room without their host. 

Ancoats, however, reappeared alone in about half 
an hour. He was extremely pale, and those who 
knew him well, and were perforce observing him at 
the moment, like Maxwell and Marcella, drew the 
conclusion that he was in a state of violent though 
suppressed excitement. His mother, however, strange 
to say, noticed nothing. But she was clearly exhausted 

VOL. I — X 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


and depressed, and she gave an early signal for the 
ladies' withdrawal. 

The great house sank into quietness. But about an 
hour after Marcella and Betty had parted at Betty's 
door, Betty heard a quick knock, and opened it in 

"Mrs. Allison is ill!" said Marcella in a low, 
rapid voice. "I think everyone ought to go quite 
early to-morrow. Will you tell Frank? I am go- 
ing to Lady Tressady. The gentlemen haven't come 

Betty caught her arm. " Tell me — " 

"Oh! my dear," cried Marcella, under her breath, 
"Ancoats and Madeleine had an explanation in his 
room. He told her everything — that child! She 
went to Mrs. Allison — he asked her to! Then the 
maid came for me in terror. It has been a heart- 
attack — she has often had them. She is rather bet- 
ter. But do let everybody go ! " and she wrung her 
hands. " Maxwell and I must stay and see what can 
be done." 

Betty flew to ring for her maid and look up 
trains. Lady Maxwell went on to Letty Tressady's 

But on the way, in the half-dark passage, she came 
across George Tressady coming up from the smok- 
ing-room. So she gave her news of Mrs. Allison's 
sudden illness to him, begging him to tell his wife, 
and to convey their hostess's regrets and apologies 
for this untoward break-up of the party. It was the 
reappearance of an old ailment, she said, and with 
quiet would disappear. 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


George heard her with concern^ and though his 
mind was active with conjectures, asked not a single 
question. Only, when she said good-night to him, 
he held her hand a friendly instant. 

"We shall be off as early as possible, so it is good- 
bye. But we shall meet in town — as you sug- 
gested? " 

"Please!" she said, and hurried off. 

But just as he reached his own door, he turned 
with a long breath towards the passage where he had 
just seen her. It seemed that he saw her still — her 
white face and dress, the trouble and pity under her 
quiet manner, her pure sweetness and dignity. He 
said to himself, with a sort of pride, that he had 
made a friend, a friend whose sympathy, whose heart 
and mind, he was now to explore. 

Who was to make difficulties? Letty? But 
already as he stood there, with his hand upon the 
handle of her door, his mind, in a kind of flashing 
dream, was already making division of his life be- 
tween the woman he had married with such careless 
haste and this other, who at highest thought of him 
with a passing kindness, and at lowest regarded him 
as a mere pawn in the political game. 

What could he win by this friendship, that would 
injure Letty? Nothing! absolutely nothing. 


Digitized by VjOOQIC 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 

The Story of Bessie Costrell. 


i6mo. Cloth. 75 cents. 

"It is the best work Mrs. Ward has ^ont:' — Philadelphia 

" Mrs. Ward's new story is one of the daintiest little gems I 
have come across in my weekly literary hunts." — Alan Dale 
in New York World, 

"The piece of fiction under consideration is the best short 
story presented in many years, if not in a decade; presented so 
thrillingly and graphically, we cannot avoid pronouncing this 
short tale a masterpiece." — Elmira Telegram, 

" Every one who did not follow the story as it came out in the 
magazine will be glad of its appearance in book form, and it will 
find a wide reading, not only for the interest and originality of 
the story, but for the curiosity of seeing the author in an entirely 
new vein. As it stands completed, it bears the unmistakable 
mark of an artist's hands, in every way a remarkably human and 
life-like portraiture, which will take its place as a small but bril- 
liant gem in the distinguished author's literary crown." — Boston 

" Every page shows it to be the work of an artist. The ob- 
servations of the trained eye, the touches of the skilled writer, 
are all there, and what I like in the story is, that no words are 
wasted in the telling. . . . The interest is too strong for one to 
lay the book down until it is finished. Mrs. Ward has never 
written anything more dramatic than this story; the agony of 
old John over his loss, the tragedy of Bessie's end, thrill the 
reader as few stories succeed in doing, though many of them 
make greater efforts." — New York World, 



Digitized by VjOOQIC 





In two volumes* small lamo, bound in polished buckram, in box, 

price, Sa.oo; also in one volume, lamo, cloth, $1.00 ; 

and in paper covers, 50 cents. 

" The task undertaken in producing * Marcella ' was 
worthy, in magnitude and in interest, of the hand . . . 
that gave us * Robert Elsmere ' and traced the * History of 
David Grieve.' . . . The whole impression left after read- 
ing * Marcella ' from beginning to end is remarkable for the 
number of highly finished pictures fixed in the mind of the 
reader — pictures of which he cannot but feel sure that 
they are at once true to life and typical of life. And those 
two conditions are rarely satisfied by any pictures whatso- 
ever, whether drawn or written. . . . There are scenes 
of cottage life in the book which have probably never been 
outdone in clean accuracy of observation or in brilliancy of 
literary finish. ... It is a sign of the book's worth that 
one is in earnest with Marcella. . . . No man could have 
drawn such a character successfully, and few would have 
been bold enough to attempt it. No one but Mrs. Ward 
herself could tell us whether she has in this instance done 
what she meant to do. . . . Whatever her own ideal may 
have been, the attempt to reach it has given us a very re- 
markable and complete piece of work, embodying a star- 
tling picture of modem England, which we Americans must 
accept, however reluctantly, as true, but which we shall 
have no reluctance at all in admiring sincerely for its 
breadth, its feeling, and the consummate detail of its exe- 
cution." — Mr. F. Marion Crawford in Book Reviews, 



Digitized by VjOOQIC 



lamo. Cloth. $1.00. 

"The strength of the book seems to lie in an extraor- 
dinary wealth of diction, never separated from thought ; in 
a close and searching faculty of social observation; in 
generous appreciation of what is morally good, impartially 
exhibited in all directions ; above all, in the sense of mis- 
sion with which the writer is evidently possessed, and in 
the earnestness and persistency of purpose with which 
through every page and line it is pursued. The book is 
eminently an offspring of the time, and will probably make 
a deep, or at least a very sensible, impression ; not, how- 
ever, among mere novel-readers, but among those who 
share, in whatever sense, the deeper thought of the period." 
— Mr. Gladstone in the Nineteenth Century, 

"Comparable in sheer intellectual power to the best 
works of George Eliot. . . . Unquestionably one of the 
most notable works of fiction that has been produced for 
years." — The Scotsman, 



Digitized by VjOOQIC 



lamo. Cloth. $1.00. In paper covers, 50 cents. 

"We have been under the spell of this book, and must 
acknowledge its power as a romance. The pulse of genius 
throbs in it and the glamour of great* imagination plays 
over it." — The Independent, 

" Mrs. Ward has shown herself to be a writer of incon- 
testable genius. Her high enthusiasm for the moral ele- 
vation of the race has been at one with the artistic impulse 
that guided her pen. ... Her delineation of the develop- 
ment of David Grieve's character by many will be thought 
unsurpassed for insight and delicacy of handling by any- 
thing in her earlier book, * Robert Elsmere.^" — Boston 

" She has, to sum up many things in a sentence, that 
indefinable and irresistible charm which the best writers 
among women have, and the best writers among men never 
have, or almost never." — New York Tribune, 

" It is a book to keep by one and read in detached pas- 
sages, for its illumination on the higher conduct of living ; 
and great as it is as a novel, its greatest usefulness is that 
of a new and diviner commentary on human life." — Bos- 
ton Budget, 



Digitized by VjOOQIC 




A reprint of the second English edition^ with passages from the 
enlarged fifth French edition^ and a topical index. 

New and Cheaper Edition, ismo, $1.00. Also In two volumes, 
i8nio» silt top, $1.50. 

" A minute and marvellous, though unstudied, chronicle 
of mental impressions, the publication of which was an 
event in the history of literature, and has insured his name 
an- immortality that might have escaped the most finished 
conscious performance within the limit of his powers. . . . 
A superb constructive edifice of thought, exuberant with 
inspiration and animating impulse and suggestiveness, 
seething with intense intellectual passion and illumined 
withal by a sublime glow of love and submissive faith." — 
Commercial Advertiser. 

" A wealth of thought and a power of expression which 
would make the fortune of a dozen less able works." — 

" A work of wonderful beauty, depth, and charm. . . . 
Will stand beside such confessions as St. Augustine's and 
Pascal's. ... It is a book to converse with again and 
again; fit to stand among the choicest volumes that we 
esteem as friends of our souls." — Christian Register, 



Digitized by VjOOQIC 

Summer in Arcady. 




Author of **A Kentucky Cardinal" "Aftermath^** " The Blue Grass 
Region of Kentucky^* " John Gray*' etc, 

i6mo. Cloth. $1.35. 

** * Summer in Arcady ' is aglow with all the well-known charm of Mr. 
Allen's delineative and narrative powers, and one reads the story with a 
breathless human interest to the very end." — The Chicago Tribune. 

** This story by James Lane Allen is one of the gems of the season. It is 
artistic in its setting, realistic and true to nature and life in its descriptions, 
dramatic, pathetic, tragic in its incidents; indeed, a veritable gem that must 
become classic. It is difficult to give an outline of the story; it is one of the 
stories which do not outline; it must be read." — Boston Daily Advertiser. 

** * Summer in Arcady ' is a brilliant addition to American fiction, and 
will convince the few skeptics that remain in England that American liter- 
ature, even in this department, is fresh, powerful, and engaging." — Chicago 
Times Herald. 

" The close communion and sympathy with Nature, and the noble inter- 
pretation of her wayward moods and changing phases, manifested in ' A 
Kentucky Cardinal ' and ' Aftermath ' find nobler, sweeter, ampler expression 
in the luminous sunlit, sun-flushed pages of his new story." — The Book- 

" The book continually gladdens the xsthetic sense with its luxurious and 
' chaste objective imagery. It shows a marked advance in the author's power 
of vivid dialogue, and Uiough the nature of its materials will prevent its be- 
'ing called the most beautiful of his stories, it is yet likely to attain the widest 
^ circulation and to be a stepping-stone to higher things." — The Chicago 

"James Lane Allen has endeared himself to thousands of readers. A 
master of language, gifted with a true poetic temperament, a lover of human- 
ity, and having high ideals for the art of writing as well as for the art of living, 
his pages reveal the deep, strong character, capable of keen insight, yet of 
sympathetic helpfulness, full of a strong and unusually appreciative love of 
nature and a spirit of good will and cheer that aflfoixls encouragement to 
weary men. Every book from his pen is a genuine fountain of life." — The 
Hartford Post. 



Digitized by VjOOQIC 

The Daughter of a Stoic. 


lamo. Cloth. $1.25. 

" From one end of the book to the other there is not a superfluous word, 
nor an ill-chosen one ; yet you never feel, as occasionally happens in reading 
a cleverly written tale, that the characters are lacking in effect. ... In 
dialogue, pure and simple, she need fear nothing from comparison with such 
masters of epigram as Anthony Hope and John Oliver Hobbes." — The 

" There is not a commonplace line in this unique and interesting novel. 
... It is a healthful book, not at all in accord with the average modem 
novel which makes passion king over body and soul." — The Lowell Times, 

** To those familiar with the author's short stories 'The Daughter of a 
Stoic' will bring the satisfaction of a fulfilled expectation. . . . The work is 
so artistically done that a second reading is really necessary to show its 
strength." — 5"/. Paul Globe, 

The Grey Lady. 


Author of ''With Edged Tools" " The Slave of the Lamp," etc, 

lamo. Cloth. $1.25. 

" Mr. H. S. Merriman's new novel is one of the best of the season, and 
will claim the undivided attention of the reader from beginning to end. 
Intensely dramatic; Mr. Merriman has done nothing better than this." — 
Boston Daily Advertiser. 

** A very good story is told with great power and in a way to arrest the 
reader's attention from the first, and to hold it with increasin|; tension to the 
very end. It is far above the average of novels, and is intrinsically strong 
and meritorious." — Buffalo Commercial, 

" A story of unusual merit, both as a literary production and for the great 
strength of its character drawing. Some of its scenes are depicted with 
remarkable power. The story throughout is of very deep interest, and it 
will add to the author's reputation for constructive skill and originality." — 
Boston Home Journal. 

** * The Grey Lady ' is a romantic story, one of the new ones from the 
presses of The Macmillan Company. The story is a pleasing one, and the 
work is most artistically bound in grey and green." — Toledo Journal, 



Digitized by VjOOQIC 



Author of "The Bostonians" " The Aspern Papers** ** A London 
Life;' " Partial Portrait" 

lamo. Cloth. $1.50. 

" Mr. Henry Tames has produced no more clever and subtle work than 
is to be found in his latest volume. . . . There are in these tales passages 
of splendid realism. The portrait of Geoffrey Dowling is a masterpiece of 
characterization. And there are sentences, unobtrusive asides, which flash 
with the brilliancy of true wit." — New York Tribune. 

** Mr. James' writings are distinctively works of art. One and all of 
them appeal most strongly to cultivated minds. In no instance does he 
descend from his transcendent ideals of literature. An acquaintance with 
Henry James means an appreciation of the finer style of written English ; 
and an mhalation of the atmosphere of purest English literature. No list of 
books for the summer will be complete without * Embarrassments.' " — 
Cambridge Press. 

A First Fleet Family. 

A Hitherto Unpublished Narrative of Certain Remarkable Advent- 
ures Compiled from the Papers of Serjeant William 
Dew of the Marines, 


With Illustrations, lamo. Cloth. $1.50. 

" Has a capital subject for a novel of adventure, the voyage and early 
history of the nrst penal settlers in Australia. The author has accumulated 
a store of actual happenings which tell a pitiful and distressing tale."— The 

"Such an excellent contribution to current literature needs but little 
urgine. In it history, adventure, and story are so delightfully intermingled 
that the book is sure to get itself read. Such books hold the reader far into 
the night." — Boston Globe. 

'* An ably written book giving in the form of a story an interesting ac 
count of the first deportation of convicts to Botany Bay. . . . Remarkably 
interesting, and in its manner often bears some resemblance to the style of 
Blackmore and Stevenson." — Hartford Post. 



Digitized by VjOOQIC 




Author of " Saracinesca" " Pieiro Ghisleri" " Don Orsino" " Casa 
Braccio" etc, 


i2mo. Cloth. $1.50. 

** Admirers of F. Marion Crawford's works will be glad to read his latest 
book. ... A bright book it is, and stamped with the author's individual- 
ity." — New York Herald, 

" Every page of the narrative interests the reader, and the gradual sepa- 
ration of the tangled threads is most skilfully managed.'* — Hartford Post. 

** The art is perfect and the tale is completed to a finish. The plot and 
the characters will engross one who sets about making their acquaintance." ^ 
Boston Courier. 

** If you doubt that it is a good story just read the first few chapters and 
then try to stop." — Providence News. 

" It is not only one of the most enjoyable novels that Mr. Crawford has 
ever written, but it is a novel that will make people think." — Boston Beacon. 

"Mr. F. Marion Crawford has never displayed greater deftness in telling 
a simple, straightforward love story in such a way as to rivet the reader's 
attention than in ' Adam Johnstone's Son.' The originality of the plot is 
singularly striking and bold. The few characters of the story are all drawn 
with admirable clearness, and the analysis of motive is keen and consistent. 
We think that none of Mr. Crawford's recent novels have been better adapted 
to please and interest a large circle of readers than this slight story." — The 



Digitized by VjOOQIC 




lamo. Cloth. Price fi.oo per volume. 


The first of a series of novels dealing with New York life. 

" Mr. Crawford at his best is a great novelist, and in ' Katharine Lauder- 
dale' we have him at his best." — Boston Daily Advertiser. 

** A most admirable novel, excellent in style, flashing with humor, and 
full of the ripest and wisest reflections upon men and women." — TAe West- 
minster Gazette. 

'* It is the first time, we think, in American fiction that any such breadth 
of view has shown itself in the study of our social framework." — L^e. 

" It need scarcely be said that the story is skilfully and picturesquely 
written, portraying sharply individual characters in well-defined surround- 
ings." — N^ew York Commercial Advertiser. 

** * Katharine Lauderdale ' is a tale of New York, and is up to the highest 
level of his work. In some respects it will probably be regarded as his best. 
None of his works, with the exception of ' Mr. Isaacs,' shows so clearly his 
skill as a literary artist." — San Francisco Evening Bulletin, 


" The imaginative richness, the marvellous ingenuity of plot, the power 
and subtlety of the portrayal of character, the charm of the romantic envi- 
ronment, — the entire atmosphere, indeed, — rank this novel at once among 
the great creations." — The Boston Budget. 



Digitized by VjOOQIC 


" His highest achievement, as yet, in the reahns of fiction. The work 
has two distinct merits, either of which would serve to make it great, — that 
of telling a perfect story in a perfect way, and of giving a graphic picture 
of Roman society in the last days of the pope's temporal power. . . . The 
story is exquisitely told." — Boston Traveler. 

V One of the most engrossing novels we have ever read." — Boston 


A sequel to " Saradnesca." 

" The author shows steady and constant improvement in his art. ' Sant* 
Ilario ' is a continuation of the chronicles of the Saracinesca family. . . . 
A singularly powerful and beautiful story. . . . Admirably developed, 
with a naturalness beyond praise. ... It must rank with ' Greifenstein ' as 
the best work the author has produced. It fulfils every requirement of 
artbtic fiction. It brings out what is most impressive in human action, 
without owing any of its effectiveness to sensationalism or artifice. It is 
natural, fluent in evolution, accordant with experience, graphic in descrip- 
tion, penetrating in analysis, and absorbing in interest." — New York 


A continuation of "Saracinesca" and "Sant* Ilario.'* 

" The third in a rather remarkable series of novels dealing with three 
generations of the Saracinesca family, entitled respectively * Saracinesca/ 
' Sant' Ilario,' and ' Don Orsino,' and these novels present an important 
study of Italian life, customs, and conditions during the present century. 
Each one of these novels is worthy of very careful reading, and offers 
exceptional enjoyment in many ways, in the fascinating absorption of good 
fiction, in interest of faithful historic accuracy, and in charm of style. The 
* new Italy ' is strikingly revealed in * Don Orsino.' " — Boston Budget. 

** We are inclined. to regard the book as the most ingenious of all Mr. 
Crawford's fictions. Certainly it is the best novel of the season." — Even' 
in£ Bulletin. 



Digitized by VjOOQIC 


" Altogether an admirable piece of art worked in the spirit of a thorough 
artist. Every reader of cultivated tastes will find it a book prolific in enter- 
tainment of the most refined description, and to all such we commend it 
heartily." — Boston Saturday Evening^ Gazette. 

** Tlie strange central idea of the story could have occurred only to a 
writer whose mind was very sensitive to the current modem thought and 
progress, while its execution, the setting it forth in proper literary clothing, 
could be successfully attempted only by one whose active literary ability 
should be fully equalled by his power of assimilative knowledge both literary 
and scientific, and no less by his courage and capacity for hard work. The 
book will be found to have a fascination entirely new for the habitual reader 
of novels. Indeed, Mr. Crawford has succeeded in taking his readers quite 
above the ordinary plane of novel interest." — Boston Advertiser 


*' We take the liberty of saying that this work belongs to the highest 
department of character-painting in words." — Churchman. 

** We have repeatedly had occasion to say that Mr. Crawford possesses in 
an extraordinary degree the art of constructing a story. His sense of pro- 
portion is just, and his narrative flows along with ease and perspicuity. It 
IS as if it could not have been written otherwise, so naturally does the story 
unfold itself, and so logical and consistent is the sequence of incident after 
incident. As a story 'Marzio's Crucifix' is perfectly constructed." — A'ew 
York Commercial Advertiser. 


A Story of Arabia. 

" Throughout the fascinating story runs the subtlest analysis, suggesteo 
rather than elaborately worked out, of human passion and motive, the build- 
ing out and development of the character of the woman who becomes the 
hero's wife and whose love he finally wins, being an especially acute and 
hiehly finished example of the story-teller's art. . . . That it is beautifully 
written and holds the interest of the reader, fanciful as it all is, to the verv 
end, none who know the depth and artistic finish of Mr. Crawford's work 
need be told."— ^A* Chicago Times. 




Digitized by VjOOQIC 


A Tale of Modem India. 

" The writer first shows the hero in relation with the people of the East 
and then skilfully brings into connection the Anglo-Saxon race. It is in 
this showing of the different eflfects which the two classes of minds have 
upon the central figure of the story that one of its chief merits lies. The 
characters are original, and one does not reco^ize any of the hackneyed 
personages who are so apt to be considered indispensabfe to novelists, and 
which, dressed in one guise or another, are but tne marionettes, which are 
all dominated by the same mind, moved by the same motive force. The men 
are all endowed with individualism and independent life and thought . 
There is a strong tinge of mysticism about the book which is one of its 
greatest charms." — Boston Transcript. 

** No story of human experience that we have met with since * John 
Inglesant' has such an effect of transporting the reader into regions differing 
from his own. ' Mr. Isaacs ' is the best novel that has ever laid its scenes in 
our Indian dominions." — TAe Daily News^ London, 


A True Story. 

" There is a suggestion of strength, of a mastery of facts, of a fund of 
knowledge, that speaks well for future production. ... To be thoroughly 
enjoyed, nowever, this book must be read, as no mere cursory notice can 
give an adequate idea of its many interesting points and excellences, for 
without a doubt ' Dr. Claudius' is the most interestine book that has oeen 

})ublished for many months, and richly deserves a high place in the public 
iavor." — St. Louis Spectator. 

** To our mind it by nd means belies the promises of its predecessor. 
The story, an exceedingly improbable and romantic one, is tola with much 
skill; the characters are strongly marked without anjy suspicion of carica- 
ture, and the author's ideas on social and political subjects are often brilliant 
and always striking. It is no exaggeration to say that there is not a dull 
page in tne book^ which is peculiarly adapted for tne recreation of student or 
thinker." — Living Church. 


" A story of remarkable power." — Review of Reviews. 

** Mr. Crawford has written many strange and powerful stories of Italian 
life, but none can be any stranger or more powerful than ' To Leeward/ with 
its mixture of comedy and tragedy, mnocence and guilt." — Cottage 



Digitized by VjOOQIC 


" It is a touching romance, filled with scenes of great dramatic power.** 
— Boston Commercial Bulletin. 

** It is full of life and movement, and is one of the best of Mr. Crawford's 
books." — Boston Saturday Evening Gazette. 

*' The interest is unflagging throughout. Never has Mr. Crawford done 
more brilliant realistic work than here. But his realism is only the case and 
cover for those intense feelings which, placed under no matter what humble 
conditions, produce the most dramatic and the most tragic situations. ... 
This is a secret of genius, to take the most coarse and common material, the 
meanest surroundings, the most sordid material prospects, and out of the 
vehement passions which sometimes dominate all human beings to build up 
with these poor elements scenes and passages, the dramatic and emoticmal 
power of which at once enforce attention and awaken the profoundest inter- 
est." — /few York Tribune* 


" * Greifenstein ' is a remarkable novel, and while it illustrates once more 
the author's unusual versatility, it also shows that he has not been tempted 
into careless writing by the vogue of his earlier books. . . . There is 
nothing weak or small or frivolous in the story. The author deals with 
tremendous passions working at the height of their energy. His characters 
are stem, rugged, determined men and women, governed by powerful preju- 
dices and iron conventions, types of a military people, in whom the sense of 
duty has been cultivated until it dominates all other motives, and in whom 
the principle of ' noblesse oblige ' is, so far as the aristocratic class is con- 
cerned, the fundamental rule of conduct. What such people may be capable 
of is startlingly shown." — New York Tribune. 


"One of Mr. Crawford's most charming stories — a love romance pure 
and simple." — Boston Home yournal. 

" ' A Roman Singer ' is one of his most finished, compact, and successful 
stories, and contains a splendid picture of Italian life." — Toronto Mail, 



Digitized by VjOOQIC 


" The strength of the story lies in its portrayal of the aspirations* dis- 
ciplinary efforts, trials, and triumphs of the man who is a bom writer, and 
who, by long and painful experiences, learns the good that is in him and the 
way in which to give it effectual expression. The analytical quality of the 
book is excellent, and the individuality of each one of the very dissimilar 
three fates is set forth in an entirely satisfactory manner. . . . Mr. Craw- 
ford has manifestly brought his best qualities as a student of human nature 
and his finest resources as a master of an original and picturesque style to 
bear upon this story. ^ Taken for all in all it is one of the most pleasing 
of all his productions in fiction, and it affords a view of certain phases of 
American, or i>erhaps we should say of New York, life that have not hitherto 
been treated with anything like the same adequacy and felicity." — Boston 


A Tale of Southern Italy. 

"A sympathetic reader cannot fail to be impressed with the dramatic 
power of this story. The simplicity of nature, tne uncorrupted truth of a 
soul, have been portrayed by a master-hand. The suddenness of the unfore- 
seen tragedy at the last renders the incident -of the story powerful beyond 
description. One can only feel such sensations as the last scene of the story 
incites. It may be added that if Mr. Crawford has written some stories 
unevenly, he has made no mistakes in the stories of Italian life. A reader 
of them cannot fail to gain a clearer, fuller acquaintance with the Italians 
and the artistic spirit uiat pervades the country." — M. L. B. in Syracuse 


A Fantastic Tale. 
Illustrated by W. J. Hennessy. 

** * The Witch of Prague* is so remarkable a book as to be certain of as 
wide a popularity as any of its predecessors. The keenest interest for most 
readers will lie in its demonstration of the latest revelations of hypnotic 
science. ... It is a romance of singular daring and power." — London 

** Mr. Crawford has written in many keys, but never in so strange a one 
as that which dominates ' The Witch of Prague.' . . . The artistic skill 
with which this extraordinary story Ls constructed and carried out is admira- 
ble and delightful. ... Mr. Crawford has scored a decided triumph, for 
the interest of the tale is sustained throughout. ... A very remarkable, 
powerful, and interesting story." — JVew York Tribune. 



Digitized by VjOOQIC 


" The field of Mr. Crawford's imagination appears to be unbounded. . . . 
In 'Zoroaster' Mr. Crawford's winged fancy ventures a daring flight. 
. . . Yet ' Zoroaster ' is a novel rather than a drama. It is a drama in the 
force of its situations and in the poetry and dignity of its language; but its 
men and women are not men ana women of a play. By the naturalness of 
their conversation and behavior they seem to live and lay hold of our htunan 
sympathy more than the same characters on a stage could possibly do." 
— The Times. 


" It is a pleasure to have anything so perfect of its kind as this brief and 
vivid storv. ... It is doubly a success, being full of human sympathy, as 
well as thoroughly artistic in its nice balanang of the unusual with the 
commonplace, the clever juxtaposition of innocence and guilt, comedy and 
tragedy, simplicity and intrigue." — Critic. 

** Of all the stories Mr. Crawford has written, it is the most dramatic, the 
most finished, the most compact. . . . The taste which is left in one's mind 
after the story is finished is exactly what the fine reader desires and the 
novelist intends. ... It has no defects. It is neither trifling nor trivial. 
It is a work of art. It is perfect." — Boston Beacon. 


" Full enough of incident to have furnished material for three or four 
stories. ... A most interesting and engrossing; book. Every page unfolds 
new possibilities, and the incidents multiply rapidly.'* — Detroit Free Press, 

** We are disposed to rank * Marion Darche' as the best of Mr. Crawford's 
American stories." — The Literary World. 


THE NOVEL: What It Is. 

i8mo. Cloth. 75 Cents. 

"When a master of his craft speaks, the public ma^r well listen with care- 
ful attention, and since no fiction-writer of the day enjoys in this country a 
broader or more enlightened popularity than Manon Crawford, his explana- 
tion of * The Novel : What It Is,' will be received with flattering interest." — 
Th$ Boston Btacon. 



Digitized by VjOOQIC 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 

Digitized by vJOOQIC 

Digitized by VjOOQIC